Books, Branding and Boundary Objects: On the Use of Image in Rural Development
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Original versionSociologia Ruralis 2010, 50(2):156-170 10.1111/j.1467-9523.2010.00506.x
This article addresses the use of image building in rural community development. We see rural image construction as taking place between the need for broadness and inclusiveness to mobilise locally, and the need for narrowness and exclusivity to attract attention from the outside world. Thus, rural images may be seen as boundary objects that need to be both flexible and clear. Empirically, the article presents a case study based on fieldwork, individual interviews and group interviews in a rural community that has used processes of image construction in order to turn depression into vitality. Fjærland, an area on the western coast of Norway, has created the image of a small, quiet and picturesque Book Town: an unlikely cluster of 12 bookshops, combined with remoteness and rurality in a place with only 300 inhabitants. The study concludes with a few core implications of this for future rural development initiatives.