S/elective belonging: how rural newcomer families with children become stayers

Aileen Stockdale, Tialda Haartsen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

16 Citations (Scopus)


Rural stayers are often defined as people who have never left their home region or home village. From the limited research into what motives stayers to stay we know that attachment to and rootedness in the rural home area play a significant role. The presence of social networks of family and friends, and familiarity with both the rural community and the physical landscape contribute to the process of 62 staying. However, rural regions and villages also receive new inhabitants. Newcomers or pro-rural migrants are often attracted by positive ideas of the rural living environment, the so-called rural idyll. Sometimes, newcomers report a mismatch between these rural representations and rural reality. This paper explores if and how actual experiences of rural place can explain why newcomers become inhabitants who stay put. We do so by interviewing newcomers who moved to a rural area of the Netherlands at the family formation life stage. All had moved between 5 and 10 years prior to this study being conducted. We view the process of becoming a stayer through the lens of processes of attachment to and identifying with the new home region, alongside processes of home making. With greater mobility, groups such as our middle class newcomers seek out residential places in enchanted landscapes: in other words, they elect to belong to particular locations. In this paper, we adopt the concepts of 'elective belonging' and 'selective belonging' in order to explore the ways rural newcomer families become stayers. Based on the newcomers' experiences we examine perceived positive and negative aspects of rural life, and how these experiences interrelate with the practice of staying. In line with place attachment theories, we further distinguish between attachment to the physical and to the social rural environment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2017
EventXXVIIth European Society for Rural Sociology Conference - Krakow, Poland
Duration: 24 Jul 201727 Jul 2017


ConferenceXXVIIth European Society for Rural Sociology Conference


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