Michael SOFER, Department of Geography and Environment, Bar-Ilan University, Israel
The rural space in developed market economies has undergone through substantial transformation processes in recent years. This space has experienced decline in agricultural employment and settlement change, and it is intensely contested by non-agricultural land uses. There are a number of underlying mechanisms impinging upon the transformation processes, all of which affect the physical-spatial structure and the socio-economic systems in the rural-space. Yet these changes are not at the same rate and intensity in the rural-urban fringe compared with peripheral areas.
Four main inter-linked domains serve as the underlying pillars of the restructuring process of rural space. These are: The social-demographic; The economic, The settlement identity and The environmental. The implications of the restructuring process operate on the household, local, regional and national levels.
The overall transformation of the rural-space raises a major question regarding rurality in general, and the survival of the rural settlements, in the rural-urban fringe in particular. Will the rural settlements retain some of their traditional features or develop a new identity? Will some of them become just another suburban, or at the most a rurban communities? Will the process of change lead to a wider uneven development process?
A range of implications on local and regional development result from the major restructuring process of which the main ones are: An internal uneven development process; conflicts of interests between the locals and the newcomers; the rural-urban fringe versus the periphery; the conflict between local agricultural producers and the environmental bodies.
Keywords: Rural Space |Restructuring|Rural-urban fringe |Conflicts of interests