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Two competing discourses emerge from a careful reading of parliamentary debates in Norway on rural development. One regards rural values as intrinsic, while the other regards the rural as an actor in a play about economic growth. The ‘growth’ discourse has economic growth as its nodal point and fo-cuses on the freedom of an individual to establish a business wherever he or she wishes, and to migrate to any preferred destination. The ‘intrinsic value’ discourse places the value of rural settlements and cultures as its nodal point and focuses on allegedly forced migration, a nature-based economy, and local freedom of action. During the neoliberal period, starting about 1980 the strength of the intrinsic value discourse has been increasingly displaced by the growth discourse. The latter seems to match general social changes such as neoliberalism and globalization more than the former. However, analysing the fight between these two discourses is not exhaustive. A broader analytic perspective is needed if we want to understand the logic of how the meaning of rurality comes about. The meaning of rurality in Norwegian politics is made through the way the competing discourses link up to ‘nondiscursive’ topics that originate and evolve outside the discourses on Norwegian rural politics. We claim that topics which include economic safety and national identity/nation-state are more or less fundamental to understanding the logic of the production of the concrete discourses of rurality in Norwegian politics. We provide evidence that rural change is contingent not only on the meaning-making process in parliamentary debates, but on the way truth claims made by politicians are linked to general national and global issues.
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Keywords: Norway; discourse analysis; dispersed settlement; economic growth; intrinsic value; rural policies

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Agder Research, Gimlemoen 19, N-4630 Kristiansand, Norway., Email: [email protected] 2: Department of Political Science and Management, University of Agder, Servicebox 422, N-4604 Kristiansand, Norway., Email: [email protected] 3: Agder Research, Gimlemoen 19, N-4630 Kristiansand, Norway., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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