The Impact of Newcomers in Remote Rural Communities: Case of Latvia
Zenija KRUZMETRA, Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies, Latvia
Dina BITE, Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies, Latvia
Ieva JATNIECE, Nongovernmental organization “?densz?mes” (Watersigns), Latvia
Anita SELICKA, Latvian Rural Forum, Latvia
Population migration increases from large cities to small towns or rural villages in recent decades. The trend has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic that has boosted the ability to work remotely and the willingness to live closer to the nature. While the migration of people from the countryside to urban areas has been studied in great detail, there are not that many studies in the recent period on the movement of people moving from urban to rural areas. This research as the part of National Research Program project VPP-LETONIKA-2021/4-0002 “Cutting-edge knowledge and solutions to study demographic and migration processes for the development of Latvian and European society (DemoMigPro) focuses on the evaluation of the impact of newcomers in various territories in Latvia.
Scientific literature demonstrates that newcomers may contribute to the demographic imbalances and loss of the human capital (Stockdale, A., Haartsen, T., 2018, 2017; Gülümser et al., 2012), highlights rural newcomers as the agents of change and stress the role of social networks playing a significant role in integration processes (Mailfert 2007). However, the role of newcomers in rural development in Latvia has not studied sufficiently.
The research data was collected using a qualitative social research approach – case studies in remote rural communities that included semi-structured individual and group interviews with newcomers, municipality representatives, local activists.
Although there can be various problems during the integration process, research results reveal various newcomer`s positive impacts on rural areas, such as creating new economic and social practices, promoting population and renewing communities, filling empty rural houses, boosting spreading of new knowledge, creating new ideas and bringing in order the territory. As the result, they can become as the drivers of development and new social movements that are especially important in remote or left-behind rural territories.
Mots clés : newcomers|place-based development|community networks