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PLACE ELASTICITY: EXPLORING A NEW CONCEPTUALIZATION OF MOBILITY AND PLACE ATTACHMENT IN RURAL AMERICA

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT.

Migration and place attachment are often coupled within the migration decision-making literature with the underlying assumption that individuals with strong place attachments are less likely to migrate than individuals with weaker ties to place. As communication technologies have improved, however, new forms of place attachment and connections between individuals and places are evolving. We introduce the concept of place elasticity as a new conceptualization of place attachment made possible by innovations in communication and transportation technologies. Place elasticity allows individuals to live in distant locales while maintaining close interaction with a particular place. We explore this concept with questionnaires and interviews from a sample of individuals from rural Appalachian counties in eastern Kentucky. Rural residents of this region have been noted for their strong place attachments and connections to their home county. Based on our questionnaires and interviews from family reunions we propose that place elasticity has three distinct characteristics: portability, strong place bonds, and permanence and that these traits allow individuals to remain connected to home counties and family, thereby allowing migration and settlement in distant locations with minimal loss of connectedness.

Keywords: Appalachia; eastern Kentucky; immobility; migration; place attachment; place elasticity; rural

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0467.2010.00353.x

Affiliations: 1: Geography Department, Macalester College, 1600 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55015, United States, Email: barcus@macalester.edu 2: Department of Geography, 1477 Patterson Office Tower, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506, United States, Email: brunn@uky.edu

Publication date: 2010-12-01

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