A Tale of Three Villages: Boom and Bust Experienced at the Local Level in Rural England

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 11:15 AM
Room: 301
Oral Presentation
Sam HILLYARD , Sociology, Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom
The paper compares and contrasts three English, rural villages, each with different local or natural resources that have informed their social histories: one geographic proximity to Southern UK cities (for commuting purposes); another offering a heritage site (several buildings and ruins of historical note) and; finally one with geographic characteristics that brought a large-scale industry temporarily to the village, but only to depart with similar rapidity. 

Through an approach using comparison and contrast, the paper considers the impact of these individual circumstances for each village before and after (in the modern-day context).  It draws upon a portfolio of evidence including macro contextualizing background information and also ethnographic research datasets.  This seeks to capture an insider perspective, whilst recognizing villages contain different social class groups and are not immune to global influences. 

It then questions the sustainability of each of these periods of boom and bust.  What implications does each model hold for their respective village?  Who benefits from each of these three differing circumstances – local, regional or national (or even global) interest groups?  What lessons can be learned from local adaptability and resilience?  The paper finally seeks to comment on the theoretical model best suited to capturing the complexity of rural villages.  Are you defined by where you live, as some sociologists have recently argued?  Or does there remain something sociologically significant about the social situation as grounded by the local level?  This attempts to place economic trends and changing circumstances as experienced and also informed by local, community-level social actors.