This panel addresses the relationships between the current urban perceptions of rurality and the daily lives of the inhabitants in rural areas. It aims to discuss in a comprehensive way and with an ethnographic basis the discourses and practices that inform contemporary rural contexts.
Since the middle of the twentieth century, the decline of the social and economic fabrics of rural areas in European countries has been followed by their increasing symbolic value. Urbanites moved by a 'pastoralist ideational framework' (Halfacree, 2007; Marx, 1967; Murdock, 2003) started to perceive them as the main repositories of some major global modern values, such as nature, tradition, culture and heritage. In the process, the rural spaces and the lives of their inhabitants become shaped by these perceptions, since they inform European and national policies of rural development, as well as the demands of most rural tourists and visitors. Therefore, modern rural areas become increasingly portrayed as multifunctional spaces of production and consumption. This fact alters rural economies and societies, by promoting the tertiary sector and fostering cross-cultural contacts. In this panel we want to discuss the relationships between the current urban perceptions of rurality and the daily lives of the inhabitants in rural areas. Proposals should deal with the following questions: What are those perceptions? To what extent do they contribute to the reconfiguration of rural areas? What impacts do they have on local development processes? And what happens to the lives of the inhabitants in rural areas? Papers with an ethnographic basis are especially welcome. The main topics include rural development policies and outcomes - construction of natural parks and historic sites, tourism facilities, local products - new forms of relationship between urban and rural contexts, and initiatives of inhabitants in rural areas that fulfill the demands of urbanites.