Few studies examine immobility or staying as a demographic process worthy of investigation. This paper seeks to address this gap in the literature. It uses a life course approach to analyse interviews with young adults who continue to reside in their rural home areas of Northern Ireland and the Netherlands. Our analysis relates to stayers' biographies and linked lives, staying as a state of flux, and staying as an attachment to (rural) place. Staying is found to be the outcome of a complex interplay between competing personal considerations, which are closely associated with the stayer's past, present, and anticipated future biography. It is a relational process linked to the lives of others (parents, partners, and children) through either choice or senses of obligation. Far from being a passive process, stayers exert considerable agency. They elect to belong to the familial, physical, and social elements of rural place, informed by senses of nostalgia and dwelling. The decision to stay is renegotiated with the onset of new life stages. The process of staying is, therefore, dynamic, multifaceted, and nuanced. Staying is in a state of flux.
Bibliographical noteThis paper received an award for being one of the top 10 most read articles in Population, Space and Place 2017-19
Stockdale, A., Theunissen, N., & Haartsen, T. (2018). Staying in a state of flux: A life course perspective on the diverse staying processes of rural young adults. Population, Space and Place, [e2139]. https://doi.org/10.1002/psp.2139