Chapter one presents the introduction of the research. Two case studies show that the present Dutch countryside is subject to considerable changes. These studies contain the popularity of country living as a long term development and the Foot and Mouth Disease in de 'IJsselvallei
' as a sudden tragedy. Both show a big contrast between harmony and geniality on the one hand and on the other isolation and dispossession. The research takes place against the background of newruralities
which arise from a shift in the geographical, social and symbolic dimensions of town and countryside. In other words: there are more rural places, in our imagination and in social practices as well.
The countryside is often seen and represented as a place of idyll and experiences, where the city-dweller can find some rest. At the same time there is pressure on farmers to expand their practices. This raises the question what is the basis of country life. Consequently, the concepts of 'rural' and 'rurality
' don't refer less and less to the traditional core - agriculture? Chapter two shows that the diversity of views about the countryside can be seen as images, as social constructs. We find these images in lyric descriptions in the media but also in plans for new developments in rural places. But, how do these imageseffect
social practices? Local research puts the 'ear to the ground' by means of discourse analysis of the everyday talk among rural residents (lay discourse), both locals and newcomers, but also of formal, professional and popular discourses.
Chapter three follows the successive events around the villagesWelsum
during and after the Foot and Mouth Disease. Such a crisis interferes deep in the pattern of daily life.Local communities experiences
the fight against FMD as a rolling machine which cannot be stopped. Images of captured cows on television and stories in newspapersawake
citizens in the whole country and urges on different forms of action and compassion. With the almost unavoidable destruction of the cattle in sight thereexists lay discourses
about sense and nonsense of the killing of healthy animals, and what this means for the identities of those involved. The description focuses around the 'Support CentreNijbroek
', a group of mainly newcomers who give help to the farming community and to private persons with hobby animals in this part of theIJsselvallei
In the past infectious animal diseases have shown to be very dramatic events which occur during the often desperate battles against the virus, as described in chapter four. After theRinderpest
in 1865 the Dutch government took severe measures. The FMD especially caused much grief in 1911 and the years following when it appeared to be a disaster. Likewise there was opposition against the senseless killing of suspicious but healthy cattle. In the fifties, finally the long-expected vaccine became available. Since then the Dutch stock-breeding had a long period of rest and prosperity concerning animal diseases. However, the take-off for the formation of the European Union brought back the FMD onto the political agenda. In both the formal (governmental) and professional (agricultural) discourses opinion was dominated that the sector was better off with non-vaccination and will even benefit from it. Despite some warnings in 1991 the vaccinations were stopped. In the FMD crisis of 2001 the farmers experienced an attack on their agricultural identity. This identity had - besides cattle - four elements: moral, feeling of honour, respect, and freedom.The media play an important role in giving voice to and mobilising the farmers. Chapter five analyses these popular discourses thoroughly. At first six national and two regional daily newspapers are surveyed. From this it is clear that they lead heavily on formal information sources of the government and organisations. Rural images are shown up when looking to the coverage of the FMD crisis in theIJsselvallei
. In their work as journalists, reporters make choices which are guided by their own ideas about farmers. The commentaries shift between conciseness and emotionalism but about one thing they all agree: agriculture must change direction. The opposition against the FMD policy stretched over large parts of the Dutch society, expressed by hundreds of letters-to-the-editor, showing attention to the sorrow of farmers and animal harm done to animals as well.
Chapter six focus on the country life which comes under heavy pressure during the FMD crisis. Some will stop their resistance, while others want to go further. Both groups lost their trust and faith in the government and agricultural organisations. Hobby farmers appear to lack a mouth-piece despite that they form the largest group. Owners of animals for example, strain, breed or companion reasons make clear why they choose for their hobby in theIJsselvallei
. They can be seen as symbols of the great diversity in motives and rural practices on the present countryside. In the FMD period their rural identity became damaged. This identity had - besides hobby animals - three elements: civilisation, life style, and romanticism. With hobby farming we see the outlines of another, multifunctional countryside where rural, 'green living' plays an increasingly important role. This in turn affects the formal discourse for the spatial planning of the countryside.
Ideas about a multifunctional countryside are drawn on the imagination power of the (oldfashion
) country life. Chapter seven gives a broad overview of poetry, literature, painting, films and documentaries. From these popular discourses, a picture of a charming countryside emerges with prolific cattle, beautiful meadow landscapes and firm, unspoiled community spirit. This Dutch cliché is used to reconstruct a national identity by the cultural and civil elite. This rural idyll clashed and felt into pieces because of the modernisation of the society after the Second World War. Since then the countryside was seen as lagging behind. But at the end of the 20 th
century this former attachment onrurality
made a strong come back - this time to bring back, to cherish and to conserve almost lost images of nature. The rural idyll resounds in tens of films and documentaries about the Dutch countryside. Where one sees the idyll as unrealistic, newcomers will exaggerate the differences between city and countryside. Moving away means for them in most casesa liberation
from their social oppression of the hurried city life.
Many people remember the idealised images of their childhood on the Dutch countryside. Many others let themselves be guided by nostalgic drawings made byCornelisJetses
hanging in schools from forty to fifty years ago.
Meanwhile there are also new representations available, as chapter eight shows. New perspectives unfold of a green, beautiful, rich, surprising, diverse and sustainable countryside as represented by the magazineLandleven
- part of the popular discourse - from the start in summer 1996. Various country fairs successfully exploit this attitude of clinging torurality
. It is a positive imagination which functions as a filter. The preference forrurality
is expressed by the slow but steady drift of city-dwellers to the countryside, a trend highlighted by 33 regional daily newspapers against the background of liveability and questions about spatial planning. Clashes between rural lifestyles seem unavoidable.
Chapter nine looks at thecountrylife
. However strong the imagination can be social practices delivers additional insight in the dynamics of the present countryside. There are three different types of newcomers - 'blow out', 'more spacious'and 're
-sources' from theRandstad
migrating to the surroundings of the IJssel. Their self-chosen rural identity invites us to take notice of a description and analysis of living in a small community, likeAlmen
, a village of about 1200 inhabitants which search after a new balance between locals and newcomers. Some want to protect and cherish village life and landscape whilst some like to give room to grow and develop. Besides these three types of newcomers another type will be described, 'buying rest'. He neglects the social and cultural aspects of the countryside. The result can be conflicts. Though there are just a few of them, they dominate the perception of the local people. The dynamics in and outside villages are expressed in the growing attention for tourism and recreation. In chapter ten we meetGelselaar
, a village in the neighbourhood ofAlmen
, as an example for the way the local population developments on the countryside which seems to be autonomous try to influence and if possible turn back.Welsum
goes through the same process. Farmers make room for dwelling and nature as do the villagers who want to keep their agricultural and rural identity. One of these aspects is the red and white Moos-Rhine-IJssel
cattle. The region aroundWelsum
is the birthplace of this type of cow. The farmer who has a strong tie with his cattle - in the popular discourse broadly exposed - experiences also a link with the past, namely the roots of his tradition. After the FMD the farmers restarted their business, but theIJsselvallei
has now more black and white cattle than before.
The future of agriculture becomes uncertain in the course of all these changes. Chapter eleven takes in the daily newspapers again, this time to take notice of the public opinion about farming. Many experts use the FMD crisis to argue for a fundamental reconstruction of the sector. This professional discourse within the popular discourse offers starting-points for theWijffels
-report, as an advice to policy-makers. Agriculture should be smaller, more sustainable and organic. The special televisionprogram about the farmers show
also this idea. Recreation and tourism become more important, butthis sector remain
underexposed in the policy. Outof the
FMD arise a new association to make a bridge between farmers and citizens. Owners of hobby animals also form an association. By means of their lay discourses all of them try to get access to the formal discourse of reconstruction plans for the countryside and of a new FMD-policy, with an option for vaccination. In this way agricultural and rural identities are reshaping.
At the end the different outlines of both case studies come together in chapter twelve. The FMD crisis and thecounterurbanisation
as well show a rich-variegated image of divergent opinions aboutrurality
. Discourse analysis affords further insight in the re-defining of the concepts rural andrurality
. The Dutch countryside - rural areas, green space - gets the function of public space of experience in a strongly urbanised society. Because geographical, social and symbolic dimensions coincide less and less, the latter becomes more important, as a representation of ideology and social practise.Rurality
then is seen asa
ideal-typically counterpart of the city, often expressed as 'the west'. Butrurality
is also subject to paradoxes, which are characterised by the construction of new rural identities in a fast-changing world. Globalisation and localisation sometimes areantipoles
of each other and sometimes strengthen each other. The FMD crisis for example shows that agriculture and with that the countrysideeverytime
is carried along by globalforces which leads
to exclusion. The fight against the virus uncovers an ethical deficit in our economy.On the contrary localisation offer new opportunities.
The undercurrent opinion of many newcomers seems turn out to be a criticism on urbanity. That leads to a search for a place where the neighbourhood experience nature in common, a place where time is slowing down. They are looking for a lifestyle which makes able a new connection of the social with the ecology. Newrurality
wants to have nature as a partner. About this the farmer and the newcomer can find each other. They have more in common then often been thought. But the symbolic gap makes it difficult for the two to approach each other and to co-operate.