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From Rural Dilution to Multifunctional Countryside: some pointers to the future from South Australia

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Rural dilution, a term originally used in the UK in the 1950s, refers to change in the social composition of rural populations: those elements engaged in primary production (and its necessary servicing) are thinned out by agricultural restructuring and labour shedding, while at the same time in-migration of new elements (retirement, long-distance commuting, lifestyle migration) is occurring. The extent to which such dilution occurs is influenced by a number of factors, including distance in travel time from the nearest metropolitan or other large city, location with respect to the coast/perceived environmental amenity, and rural population density. This paper explores changes in traditional rural communities in Southern Yorke Peninsula, South Australia, which lie 2½-3 hours' drive from Adelaide and have been subject to substantial rural dilution. Drawing on two detailed surveys of the strictly rural (dispersed) population of the region carried out in 1984 and replicated in 2000, some important social impacts of the recent migration flows are identified, including changes in perceived community identity and allegiance, shopping and business patterns, and the very recent impact of the uptake of electronic communication innovations. The paper concludes with an assessment of the extent to which the trends identified are likely to continue, and mould future communities in similar distance and amenity situations over the next 10-20 years, changing the nature of rurality in Australia.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-03-01

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