Rural Health - on whose terms?
(James Cook University)
Paper short abstract:
Who defines the 'rural' in rural health? How do they define it and for what purposes? This paper poses these questions based on the studies of a medical anthropologist living and working in a rural Australian mining town that is struggling to define itself.
Paper long abstract:
Historically, rural populations have been defined in ways that are intimately tied to modes of production, population size, and geographic location. Often the idyllic picture of rural life, in contrast to the hectic pace of life in urbanized centers, has crept into definitions of rural identity held not only by rural residents, but also by those beyond the rural boundary. Within health and medical literature and pedagogy, the rural is most often defined in terms of deficit and universal rights: Rural populations traditionally have poorer health, especially in comparison to urban area populations, and the argument follows that rural people should have better access to services for their health and well being. The question of who defines the "rural" in anthropological and rural health literature, how they define it and the purpose of such definitions is asked in this discussion paper. In Australia, there are competing scales utilized within health research to define where the "rural" is and how it is constructed. These communities are often placed as victims of political and economic forces that prevent their access to better health, due to a lack of funding for rural health development.