Convenors: Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins (Aberystwyth University), Marie Mahon (National University of Ireland, Galway), Apostolos Papadopoulos (Harokopio University, Athens), Michael Woods (Aberystwyth University).

Objectives: This working group calls for papers that explore socio-economic inequalities within and between rural regions, and between rural and urban regions, investigating patterns of inequalities, the drivers of these inequalities, and how they are experienced and responded to. It particularly aims to promote engagement with the concept of ‘spatial justice’ as a framework for analysis and contributes to the conference theme of ‘Social Justice and Rural Spaces and Places’. It is intended that papers from the working group will form the basis for a journal special issue. The convenors are participants in the Horizon 2020 IMAJINE project (Integrative Mechanisms for Addressing Spatial Justice and Territorial Inequalities in Europe) and we anticipate that 3-4 papers would be contributed from the project, with further papers from an open call, creating space of dialogue around the topic and the potential development of a new research agenda on rural spatial justice.

Topic: We define inequalities broadly here, to encompass economic inequalities, access to services, and questions of environmental justice; and welcome the examination of these inequalities at different scales. As such, we aim to reconsider the evidence concerning dynamics of territorial inequalities in rural areas and re-evaluate the effectiveness of policy responses. In particular, the working group will encourage participants to engage with the concept of ‘spatial justice’ as an interpretative framework. Originating in the work of Henri Lefebvre, ‘spatial justice’ has been developed and applied in urban studies, but to date has had limited application in rural studies. However it has significant potential as a framework for understanding how territorial inequalities are produced, engaged with and responded to, providing insights for example into perceived inequalities and injustices (alongside measured inequalities), the distribution of power and the role of the state in (re-)producing inequalities, and links between inequalities and various forms of political action.

Contributions to the working group are invited that address any of the above aspects, including (though not limited to): Patterns of socio-economic inequalities between rural and urban regions, and/or within rural regions, and their drivers; Inequalities in access to services and infrastructure, between rural and urban regions, and/or within rural regions, including public services, digital infrastructure, financial and banking services, legal services, etc.; The differential impact of austerity policies, including cuts to public services, in rural regions; How territorial inequalities are experienced and perceived by different groups within rural regions; The contribution of state policies and spatial planning to producing, reproducing or alleviating territorial inequalities between rural and urban regions, and/or within rural regions, including questions of environmental (in)justice; Connections between rural and regional development policies and programmes and territorial inequalities; Evaluation of the effectiveness of different policies and rural/regional development interventions in addressing territorial inequalities; Rural perceptions of justice/injustice in the distribution of power, and links to various political actions, including support for populist, regionalist or nationalist movements; The measurement and evaluation of territorial inequalities.

Papers may be conceptual, empirical or methodological in focus, and may draw on qualitative, quantitative or mixed research. A focus on Europe is preferred, though case studies outside Europe may be considered where these fit the framework of the working group and provide additionality.

Format: Traditional workshop