One Rural, two Visions — Environmental Issues and Images on Rural Areas in Portugal
In recent years rural areas, specially the most peripheral and remote ones, have become increasingly perceived and identified as spaces of outstanding environmental quality. This relatively new function of the rural, while widely recognized both socially and institutionally, is to some extent strange to local residents to whom the natural resources and the environmental aspects are mainly perceived from an utilitarian perspective. The exteriority of the measures and policies to preserve rural environment tends to place remote rural areas in a new subaltern position. Correspondingly, the social and institutional construction of rural areas as environmental reserves tends to create a new rural-urban dichotomy which may have important repercussions in terms of the future directions of rural development processes. We aim to discuss the abovementioned aspects, based on empirical evidence from two Portuguese rural areas. We conclude that there are two different visions about the rural — the rural to visit and the rural to live - conveyed respectively by the urban residents and the State and by the local inhabitants.