Rural landscape in Aragon, Spain

Where to meet?

Clarion Congress & Hotel, Eclipse


Elisabete Figueiredo
Elisabete Figueiredo

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Convenors/ Panellists:

The panel engages with the second topic of the conference, especially the rural restructuring and the current and emerging patterns of mobility motivated by counterubanization processes and dynamics. The panel proposes to revisit the seminal article «Making sense of counterurbanization» in the Journal of Rural Studies, by Clare J.A. Mitchell (2004), aiming to debate and respond – from a Southern European perspective – to the author’s conclusions and questions, particularly regarding the diversity of counterurbanisation movements and its protagonists.


Starting by reflecting on Mitchell’s article in which the author proposes the adoption of three concepts – counterurban, counterurbanising and counterurbanisation – to describe the change and the diversity of spatial redistribution of population, the panel aims at further explore these concepts, providing new theoretical insights and methodological approaches. Although Mitchell stresses the constraints posed by the inconsistent use of terminology to the analysis and understanding of population relocation and redistribution movements, we believe that Southern European evidence – deriving for example from the relocation movements motivated by the recent financial crisis – and  its construction of rurality may present some specificities worthwhile to explore vis-à-vis the concepts proposed by the author. In this panel, researchers will reflect and contribute to enlarge the debate on counterurbanisation by exploring the conflicts and opportunities of new experiences and practices of counterubanisation for Southern European rural territories. The new forms of mobility, restructuring processes and rural-urban relationships these movements seem to induce, may help to respond to Mitchell’s claims on the need to uncover the (diverse and context-based) characteristics of the migrants; their motivations to relocate, the relevance of the ‘crisis context’ in their decisions, their adaptation strategies and their levels of satisfaction. At the same time, the debate will contribute to unravelling the demographic and socioeconomic complexity and diversity of the rural and its impacts on rural futures. Panellists will try to address these topics reflecting on evidence from Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.


Panel Debate – the panellists will make very short presentations (5 to 7 minutes) on the topic, focusing on Southern European countries and on their own research. A moderated debate, chaired by Elisabete Figueiredo, will follow between panellists and audience. Participants are invited to read Mitchell’s seminal paper and to share their own ideas and research on the topic.