Topic: Territories, inequalities and mobilities: analysis of two Spanish rural regions in a context of crisis
The rural population has remained stable in absolute terms since the 1990s, although it has lost weight in the Spanish population as a whole. After the rural exodus of the past decades, different factors explain this relatively resilient behavior: residential moves, commuting, international migration flows, public development policies, improvement of transport and communication infrastructures, private automobility, etc. The mobility of people, capital, services, messages… is a transversal element to all these factors. It draws new social landscapes which deserve sociological attention. Therefore, this paper addresses the issue of mobility in the specific context of crisis, confronting and questioning the role of different structural conditions of the territory, essentially the distance to the city and the availability of roads or services, among others. The objective is to explore the role played by the territory in explaining residential and daily mobility strategies, many of them developed as a result of adaptative practices, linked to the effects of sharp decline in employment and other recession effects. To this end, a comparative research has been carried out between a rural mountain area – Navarra Pyrenees – and another of a peri-urban nature – Gran Vega de Sevilla – with the aim of testing the relationship established between the different structural conditions of both territories and the different strategies of sustainability and resilience based on mobility, deployed by their inhabitants.
The research has employed a qualitative methodological approach, consisting of conducting semi-structured interviews to different population profiles. A total of 53 interviews were conducted, 30 in the peri-urban area and 23 in the mountain rurality. On one hand, expert profiles were selected (politicians, managers of public institutions, development agencies, etc.) and key informants (technical personnel of employment, doctors, teachers, social workers). And on the other hand, interviews were carried out with sociological profiles defined concerning their residential biography, gender, age, labor, and familiar and economic strategies.
The results show a great diversity of discourses regarding the strategies deployed, which reveal different degrees of crisis impact, and remarkable inequalities in the access to mobility as a resource to achieve greater well-being. In that sense, even though territorial conditions constrain everyday life, age, gender and social position appear as key elements – in relation respectively to personal autonomy, social autonomy or vulnerability – which can even transcend those structural differences.