Youth migration, rurality and class: a Bourdieusian approach
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Original versionEuropean Urban and Regional Studies 2011, 18(2):170-183 10.1177/0969776410390747
Drawing on Bourdieusian social theory, the paper combines class and social constructionist perspectives to reconceptualize youth’s rural-to-urban migration. It discusses how structural properties of everyday lives, e.g. class background, inform rural youth’s evaluations of rurality, and how these evaluations generate specific rural/urban residential preferences and migration practices. The theoretical discussion is informed by a survey study among rural teenagers in a remote rural region in Norway – the Mountain Region. The results show significant correspondence between informants’ location in the rural class structure as measured by parents’ economic/cultural capital resources and occupation, their evaluations of rurality and, finally, their preferences along the rural–urban dimension for a future place to live. The findings indicate that the social background of rural youth has a greater influence on migration decisions than has been acknowledged in contemporary and predominantly social-constructionist rural migration research. Thus, the paper advocates a theoretical framework that conceptualizes the migration decisions of rural youth as resulting from individualized and free choices, but still structured by predispositions of their rural class habitus.