Andreas KOCH, University of Salzburg, Austria
Local development of rural peripheries has to cope with two challenges at least, affecting independent imaginations and strategies of rural residents’ well-being. One can be called the ‘urban-centric view’ (Carson 2016) and circumscribes the prevailing political-economic attribution of urban spaces as creative, progressive, and innovative. This way, urbanity functions as a role model for rural spaces, although urban life is struggling with its own problems, such as ecological sustainability and housing affordability. A second and related challenge is the centralization of political and planning decisions on the spatial allocation of functions and infrastructures. Rural spaces are assigned to preserve urban viability by securing residentials’ needs for food, energy, and natural areas. Thus, their spatial functions appear instrumental and undermine their own endogenous needs.
The paper aims to argue for rural emancipation that considers the local autonomy most relevant and favors a diversity of economic, political, and social approaches, which resist a standardized and comparative evaluation of success, impact or applicability. However, such an approach does not neglect regional, national or global scales as meaningful in dealing with political subsidiarity. From a social theory perspective, the paper refers to Rosanvallon’s (2013) idea of relational equity with its three components of ‘singularity’, ‘reciprocity’, and ‘communality’. From a geographical theory perspective, a relational space concept is appl.
This approach can claim sufficient empirical evidence and is illustrated by presenting some activities of residents of Vuollerim, a northern Swedish village. Stakeholder interviews show that co-operatively organized institutions such as the school, a hotel and a shop, and international networking (hosting the Crowd Summit week) can lead to a shared commitment that strengthens their economic and societal survival.
Mots clés : rural emancipation|cooperative society|relational space|relational equity