Discourses of rurality in a norwegian context
In this introductory article to the special issue of Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift–Norwegian Journal of Geography , we give a brief presentation of the tradition of rural studies in Norway. The bulk of Norwegian rural studies can be classified as rural development research where the main objective is to improve the conditions in rural areas. This is in line with the strong connection between social science and welfare state policies in the Nordic countries. Research carried out in a rural change tradition, which focuses more on differences in interests and values, identities, representations and imaginations, has been more limited, but is growing. We claim that a functionalist approach focusing on quantifiable socio-economic variables still has some degree of hegemony in the strong tradition of policy-related research in Norway. The contributions following this article, though, take on new theoretical perspectives with their discursive and social constructivist approach. The articles presented are focusing on rurality as a contested concept in the Norwegian context. They focus on how academics, politicians and ordinary people adopt different meanings of the concept, and how these different meanings have impact on policy formation, research agendas and everyday life.