Topic: Everyday life and mobility in the sparsely populated rural Finland
The northern peripheries of Europe are associated with remoteness, isolated communities, resource based economies, a loss of employment, youth out-migration and population aging. However, uni-directional, permanent out-migration is not the only mobility trend in sparsely populated areas. For instance, long-distance commuting and working from home have emerged as substitutes for out-migration for some people. In addition, some people want to return to their roots, which causes remigration to their own or their spouse’s home. At the same time, rural communities have become the locus of a range of work and leisure related mobilities that are increasing in both scope and scale. Such mobile groups include seasonal, temporary and foreign workers, tourists, outdoor recreationists, second home owners and users, berry pickers, hunters and fishers. Hence, rural communities that are often perceived as being stable and fixed, can be approached as dynamic space, as an intersection of flows of people and objects and, as such, continuously in a state of flux.
The present paper aims at identifying the different forms of everyday mobilities in the sparsely populated rural Finland. It focuses on rural dwellers’ narratives of their mobilities and immobilities, paying attention to the possibilities and difficulties included in built and digital infrastructure, mobility services, distances to service centers, weather conditions and road maintenance associated with practicing everyday mobilities in rural settings. The paper draws on textual material produced by rural inhabitants, who participated in a writing competition and wrote about their everyday life in the countryside. Narrative approach is used as a methodological basis for the study.