European Society for Rural Sociology-Congress 2005
22 - 27 August 2005
European Society for Rural Sociology
XXI Congress: A Common European Countryside? Change and continuity, diversity and cohesion in the enlarged Europe, 22-27 August 2005, Keszthely (Hungary)
Working Group 4:
Demographic evolution and socio-economic transformation in rural Europe: from the industrial revolution to the present day
Among other objectives, current European policies for agriculture and rural development aim at improving the economic and demographic trajectories of rural areas. However, these trajectories are often the result of structures and dynamics that unfold in the long run and are
deeply embedded in the general direction of social change in contemporary Europe. Therefore the incorporation of rural history to present-day
debates on agricultural and rural policy might be rewarding in several aspects.
This working group will focus on those historical transformations that contribute in a more direct way to our understanding of the present situation, that is, the transformations induced by industrialization and 'modern' economic development. Two kinds of transformation will be particularly examined:
(1) Demographic change. Urban industrialization created an increasing pull force, so that rural migration led in many cases to depopulation of the
countryside. But the culmination of industrialization and the entry in a post-industrial society have also generated over the last decades new residential patterns in rural Europe. This tension between demographic effects has drawn a heterogeneous picture in terms of age- and sex-structure in today's rural communities.
(2) Socio-economic transformation. Industrialization destroyed some of the traditional peasant activities, but also provided some new options. Farm specialization was fostered by the growth of urban markets and, even more importantly, non-peasant activities (in
industrial and service sectors) gained a greater weight. The outcome was a clear trend towards diversification in rural economies and societies and the spread of capitalist labour relations (based on the wage mechanism).
The working group intends to gather scholars from all over Europe in order to obtain a global perspective of these transformations from the 18th
century to the present day. This implies, for instance, to establish a chronology of economic and demographic rural transformations and explore
its links with the chronology of European industrialization and its national and regional versions. Papers can also analyse the consequences
of major political ruptures (especially in Mediterranean and Eastern Europe during the 20th century) on rural evolution: how different would
things have been in case these ruptures had not taken place?
Papers covering a wide spatial and temporal framework are particularly welcome. So are comparative analyses (about several European areas or about the different regions of a given country). A quantitative treatment of aspects such as depopulation/repopulation, rural
age-structure, increasing employment in industrial and service sectors..., may favour international comparison. In any case, however, the working group will show a pluralistic orientation, both in disciplinary and
methodological terms. All social science researchers are invited to contribute with a paper on these issues.
Please send, by 15 April 2005, your abstract for a paper (not longer than 300 words) to the working group convenor:
Fernando Collantes (University of Zaragoza, Spain) firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated 25 January 2005