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Emilybeth Davies-Smith

Topic: An Examination of the Methods of Resistance by Rural Communities to the Imposition of Urbanisation and the Development of HS2

Key words:  Rural Sociology, Informal Social Control, HS2.


This paper explores the discursive actions and tacit practices of long-term residents towards widening social and infrastructural change within the English countryside, with a specific focus on the development of a High-Speed Rail Network (HS2) and its impact on rural communities in the East Midlands of England. Through a theoretical examination of the literature on informal social control and identity protection and management, my aim with this paper is conceptualise how HS2 is used as a smokescreen for wider fears concerning the diversification of the English countryside. Specifically, I will explore how rural communities, through what I call the socio-spatial organisation of ‘rurality’; or in other words, the ways in which long-term residents draw upon the rural landscape and social practices to denote belonging and the exclusion of the ‘Other’ as a way to enact a set of informal controls that establish a ‘traditional’ social identity based on an idealised perception of what rural life represents in order to protect against wider threats of social change that bring creeping urbanisation and suburbanisation (e.g., HS2) and the social and spatial implications inherent in them.

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