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Elisabete Figueiredo

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.

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Elisabete Figueiredo and Antonio Raschi

«Un' immensa campagna avvolta dal verde» - Reinventing rural areas in Italy through tourism promotional images

During the last decades marginal rural territories of Europe lost a great part of their productive character, acquiring nowadays new functions, roles and social meanings which, in turn, are leading to their perception as consumption places. Among the new roles and functions, environmental protection, nature conservation, tourism and leisure activities seem to be the most significant. Tourism, in particular, has an increasing role in the production of a certain image of rurality, through the use of powerful specific (although global) symbols such as green landscapes, authenticity and typicality, contributing to the reinvention of remote rural areas. Based on a preliminary content analysis of promotional materials from Italian rural tourism units, this paper aims to discuss the way rural areas and rurality are presented and sold to tourists and to debate some implications for local development. Empirical evidence suggests a lack of correspondence between the real rural and the promoted rurality.

Open access

Antonín Vaishar, Lucie Vidovićová and Elisabete Figueiredo


The paper discusses the concept of the quality of life and its measuring. It tries to explain its peculiarities in the rural space considering different levels of education, professional activities, mobility, ways of dwelling, access to the social and technical infrastructure. The subjective perception of both urban and rural people to the rural quality of life can be manifested in moving in and moving out. The main shortages of the rural quality of life can be seen (by rural people) in a poor access to the prestigious and well-paid jobs and to a richer social life. The main advantages of the rural way of life are generally evaluated (by urban people) by better access to the nature. A promotion of the local identity is considered as an important tool for improving the rural quality of life (besides of a solution of infrastructural problems), considering the enormous difference among European rural areas of a big differentiation of the European countryside. The last part of the paper summarizes the contributions of the special number.