Rurality Essay

811 Words Dec 4th, 2015 4 Pages


What is rurality?
Nicolette Rousseau BA

BRITAIN is primarily a country of urban dwellers. For many, rural areas are seen as an idyll, the antithesis of the ills of urban life. The countryside is a place to 'get away from it all' - a weekend retreat, or somewhere where one might aspire to live. People have images of rolling landscapes or bleak moors, complete with smiling farmers leaning on farm gates. The country air is seen as recuperative, and the environment generally beneficial. McLaren in 1951 argued that city children should be encouraged to go hill walking; today young offenders are sometimes sent on hiking expeditions.
Jones and Eyles (1977), in An Introduction to Social
Geography, stated:
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The definition of rurality used to allocate rural practice payments to rural general practitioners has stimulated little debate compared to the use of Jarman's underprivileged area index to allocate 'deprivation payments'. This is despite the fact that for many family health services authorities, rural practice payments account for a significantly larger expenditure than deprivation payments. Little research has been done to assess where the additional costs of rural practice lie, and to what extent the rural practice payments target effectively practices experiencing the greatest costs.

Table 1 Definitions of rurality as used by health researchers
Index of rurality
Socio-economic classification
Population size/density

Population size + social characteristics Remoteness from urban centres
Subjective assessment

Bentham (1984)
Haynes (1991)
Carstairs and Morris (1991)
Phillimore and Reading (1992)

Phillimore and Reading (1992)
Williams and Lloyd (1990)
Haynes and Bentham (1982)
Ritchie et al. (1981)

There have been few attempts to include rurality in deprivation indices (Jarman, 1983, 1984; Townsend et al., 1986).
The most commonly used such index of rurality is that of
Cloke (1977; see Table 2).

How to describe it?
These problems with a definition may appear strange when
'rural' and 'urban' are concepts that most people understand.
However, Moseley (1979) said that "There is no unambiguous way

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