Friday, 18 February 2011

Concepts and Terminologies related to Rural Community and Culture

This section will describe the concepts and definitions of rural, community, culture and some characteristics of rural community. It provide some insight on what constitute rural community and culture. But need to bear in mind  variations of ideas and concepts across nations and people.


  • “Area dominated by open countryside, extensive land uses and low population densities”. (The Dictionary of Human Geography)
  • “Low population density containing scatered dwellings, hamlets, villages and small towns”.  (Moseley, 2003)
  • The sparsely populated areas in which people farm or depend on natural resources, including villages and small towns that are dispersed through these areas. (Dalal-Clayton, 2003)
      Keith Hoggart (1987):
  • “Rural is associated with an adherence to ‘traditional’ value systems, which stress the merits of religious adherence, respect for ‘elders’, the importance of the family, a strong sense of community and suspicion of change in socio-political status quo”. (social perspective)
  • “Dominance of primary industries particularly agriculture and forestry...small scale of commercial and industrial enterprises”. (economic perspective)
  • “Areas in which settlements are small, with substantial zones of open countryside between them”. (ecological perspective)

  • Community can refer to a location (communities ofplace) or a collection of individuals with a common interest or ties whether in close proximity or widely separated (communities of interest) (Philips et al (2009).
  • People who live within a geographically defined area and who have social and psychological ties with each other and with the place where they live (Mattessich and Monsey 2004 cited in Philips 2009:5).
  • A group of people who live close to one another and are united by common interests and mutual aid (National Research Councils 1975 cited in Philips, 2009:5)
  • A combination of social units and systems which perform the major social functions... and the organisation of social activities (Waren cited in Philips et al, 2009:6).

  • Community are defined by ‘social interaction’- interpersonal discourse based on shared experience, which shapes values and attitudes and creates a group of people – residing in close nutual proximity – who come to identify themselves as a social grouping. (a basic definition of a ‘place community). 
  • Community is a product of experience, interaction and identity: bonds are created between individuals over time, extending beyond family networks to embrace co-workers, neighbours and other social acquaintances. 
  • Community are therefore places of ‘common bonds’, and of interaction, and ‘traditional communities’ (those who reflect common understanding) are those built on tradition, shared values and ideas, and common culture (Gallant, Nick, et. al ,2008: 146-147).

According Raymond William (cited in Smith and Riley, 2009) the word culture is among a few complicated words in the English language due to it’s being used in  distinct intellectual disciplines and distinct system of thought. It has been used  earlier to associate to cultivation of animals and crops and also with religious worship, to the improvement of the individual human mind and personal manners  through learning; the idea of improvement in land and farming practices and later to refer also to the improvement of society as a whole (used as value-laden synonym for civilization).
The three currently uses of the term culture are:
·         To refer to the intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic development of an individual, group, or society.
·         To capture a range of intellectual and artistic activities and their products – film, art, theatre (in this usage culture is more or less synonymous with “the Arts”, hence we can speak of a “Minister for Culture”).
·         To designate the entire way of life, activities, beliefs, and customs of a people, group, or society. (Williams 1976 cited in Smith and Riley, 2009:2)

Characteristics of of Rural-Urban Communities

  1. Community
  2. Social fields involving few
  3. Simple economy
  4. Little division of labour
  5. Ascribed status
  6. Education from status
  7. Close-knit social networks
  8. Local power-based
  9. Economic class-one division
  10. Conflicting groups living together
  11. Regional focus of life
  12. Direct contact with end product of work

  1. Association
  2. Social fields involving many
  3. Diverse economy
  4. Extreme differentiation and specialization
  5. Achieved status
  6. Status from education
  7. Loose-knit social networks
  8. Larger-scale power-based
  9. Economic class- dominating division
  10. Conflicting groups segregated
  11. Occupational focus of life
  12. Detached from end product of work

      Source: Cloke  (1985)

  • Cloke, Paul ad Park Chris (1985) Rural Resource Management, London: Croom Helm.
  • Gallant, Nick, et. al (2008) Introduction to Rural Planning, Oxon: Routledge.
  • Hoggart, Keith (1987), Rural Development: A Geographical Perspective, New York: Croom Helm.
  • Moseley, Malcolm J. (2003), Rural Development: Principles and Practice, London: Sage Pub.
  • Phillips Rhonda (2009), An Introduction to Community Development, New York: Routledge.
  • Smith, Plilip and Riley, Alexander (2009), Cultural Theory: An Introduction, Second Edition, Oxford: Blackwell.

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