A Country Childhood Idyll - Return Migration to Rural Denmark

This poster, created by Helle Dalsgaard Pedersen, was featured at the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation Conference (September 2017) in Nelson, BC.


Migration into rural areas is often explained in terms of the rural idyll, and the attraction of the countryside with its less hurried way of life. This migration phenomenon has mostly been researched in either high-amenity, popular rural areas, traditional rural regions with local economies dependent on farming, fishing or mining, or regions that cover vast geographical areas with great distances to larger regional centres. This study, focusing on less remote places that are not dependent upon traditional rural economies, reveals that classic quality of life motivations play a role in decisions to move to less-popular rural areas. However, while the pull of the rural idyll and the importance of career prospects and cultural factors (manifestations as well as mentality) should not be neglected in forming part of the complexity that makes places attractive, the findings demonstrate that the conscious (and often subconscious) role played by nostalgic remembrances of own childhoods, notions of safety, social capital and belonging act as primary drivers for moving to a specific rural area. Due to the egalitarian ideologies, norms and behaviors of the rural place of origin, often articulated as The Jante Law mentality, along with overly critical representations of rural places in the media and in narratives in general, actual and imagined return migration is, however, interwoven with ambivalent feelings of stigmatization, doubt and shame, as staying behind or returning is perceived as a step back; a downward social mobility.

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