Back to Rural. Transitions of rural studies in Polish geography
Marcin WOJCIK, University of Lodz, Poland
Paulina TOBIASZ-LIS, University of Lodz, Poland
Geographical studies of rural areas in Poland have over a hundred years of tradition, and their different theoretical and methodological "paths" can be interpreted in relation to the changing patterns of scientific explanation models. The aim of this presentation is to outline the evolution of rural studies in Polish geography compared to general research trends within this discipline (c.f. Clout 1972, Woods 2005).
In the interwar period, the issues of rural geography, including rural settlements and agriculture, were carried according the model of descriptive, cognitive and explanatory research as dominant in human geography (antropogeography) at that time (e.g. Dobrowolska 1922, Dylik 1948, Leszczycki 1932).
Since the conference in Osieczna in 1955, in Polish geography, rural studies were assigned to research in agriculture and food economy. They focused mainly on land use, agrarian structure, labor inputs and the structure of agricultural production. There were also studies on rural settlements (e.g. Szulc 1976; Kielczewska-Zaleska 1972) and population problems (e.g. Eberhardt 1989), however, the research on rural settlements focused rather on their genesis and morphology, then on functions in the development of the broader settlement systems. Also, in works dealing with demographic issues at that time, it is difficult to find one that would focus on countryside communities and their perceptions of rural space.
It was only the last decade of the 20th century when geographers’ research interests expanded over agriculture and rural settlements. Attempts are made to integrate geographical rural studies and to discover specific features of rural life in the conditions of multifunctional rural development. Following trends set by contemporary geographic literature, rural geography in Poland starts to interpret 'rural' as a world of social, economic and cultural phenomena and processes in which rural communities participate (c.f. Halfacree 1993, 2007, Wojcik 2012).
Keywords: rural studies|Poland|transition|theory|research practice