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Spring 2019: Inclusive Rural Development in Times of Urbanisation

Spring 2019, six-week graduate-level course: DSOC 6940 (10-15 students)
Professor Bettina Bock


Since 2009 the urban population has outnumbered the population living in the rural areas. The situation differs considerably between high and low income countries, with about 80% of the population residing in urban areas in the former compared to 30% in the latter. Yet the tendency is crystal clear – the world is urbanising rapidly. Urbanisation is generally perceived as a sign of modernisation and, in turn, development and economic growth. At the same time there is concern about its effect on rural areas and their residents and anxiety that urbanisation concurs with continuous rural decline, impoverishment and social exclusion of rural residents, and rural abandonment. More insight into the interrelation between urbanisation and rural development and the preconditions for realising inclusive rural development is, hence, of crucial importance.

This course looks into the impact of urbanisation on rural areas and the processes of social and spatial differentiation that go along with it. It focuses on the presence and the construction of peripheral places in times of mobilisation and globalisation that change the significance of geographical location. The course is built up around four core questions: (1) How does current trends of urbanisation affect rural areas? (2) What does marginalisation mean for rural residents and how does marginalisation interact with social exclusion? (3) How can we explain the marginalisation of rural areas in times of globalisation and mobilisation? (4) What can be done to counteract marginalisation and promote inclusive rural development?

The course will provide knowledge and comprehension of the features of rural differentiation in various parts of the world and their impact on the daily life of their residents. Students will learn how to examine rural change and how to use novel theoretical approaches for analysing processes of marginalisation. This will allow them to identify the main drivers and agents of marginalisation and their effects on residents’ sense of belonging and affective engagement. Integrating the different drivers and effects of marginalisation will enable them to examine varying approaches to rural development, to evaluate rural development policies and to design alternatives.