Commercial counterurbanisation in the rural periphery

Gary Bosworth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Rural economies continue to be places of social and economic change, both in the most accessible and most remote regions of Europe. Although technology and human mobilities are constantly narrowing the gap between urban centres and remote rural areas, the ‘periphery’ continues to present distinct challenges for rural policy. In this context, this chapter examines the economic potential associated with rural in-migration and takes a dynamic networks approach to understanding the extent to which the most peripheral rural areas can benefit from an emergent trend of ‘commercial counterurbanisation’. Commercial counterurbanisation is defined as ‘the growth of rural economies stimulated by inward migration’ (Bosworth, 2009a; Bosworth, 2010). The demographic trend of counterurbanisation has been defined, analysed and critiqued at great length over recent decades but there remains a need for greater clarity in our approach to understanding the implications for rural areas. Indeed, Halfacree (2008: 481) goes as far as to suggest that the subject might be ‘rather exhausted’. However, the ‘almost taken-for-granted presentation of wealthier people moving to rural areas’ (ibid: 479), which Halfacree describes as the dominant image of counterurbanisation in Britain, can be challenged when we look at the most peripheral rural areas. Taking up Halfacree’s challenge to revitalise research in this field, the potential for business development associated with counterurbanisation provides a new perspective from which to study the sustainability of contemporary rural economies. A large amount of literature has focused on the implications of counterurbanisation for the social transformation of rural settlements and rural life. In-migration is associated with increasing property prices disadvantaging indigenous residents (Gilligan, 1987; Hamnett, 1992), a potential reduction in the viability of services (Divoudi and Wishardt, 2004) and the loss of a sense of community (Bell, 1994). Murdoch et al. (2003) discuss the new conflicts that arise in rural societies between incomers and traditional residents and Savage et al. (1992) describe how gentrification is affecting neighbourhoods as wealthier classes are creating and sometimes enforcing their own identities on parts of rural England.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRegional Development in Northern Europe
Subtitle of host publicationPeripherality, Marginality and Border Issues
EditorsMike Danson, Peter de Souza
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780203127247
ISBN (Print)9780415601535, 9781138792081
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


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