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Images of Rurality: Commodification and Place Promotion

By David Storey


It is argued that rural areas and landscapes can increasingly be regarded as places of consumption\ud rather than production. This is reflected in the emphasis which appears to be placed on attracting\ud visitors to rural localities. While some rural locations are long-standing tourist attractions, others\ud are increasingly endeavouring to promote themselves through the ‘marketing’ of local uniqueness.\ud An emphasis on local heritage frequently underpins these attempts and landscapes, local\ud individuals or families, events, traditions, building styles are amongst the ‘resources’ put into the\ud service of place promotion. The use of local heritage as a mechanism to promote rural places opens\ud up a series of issues including those of authenticity, romanticisation, sanitisation, contestation and\ud dissonance. These place promotional trends are reflected in the importance attaching to tourism in\ud rural development strategies pursued at a local level. In this way development funding and the\ud various local strategies devised by local partnerships appear to increasingly emphasise the\ud importance of attracting visitors. This apparent commodification of the countryside appears to be\ud motivated by a number of concerns. While the desire to generate revenue is clearly one of these,\ud social and cultural factors may also play a role. In turn, these place promotional initiatives affect\ud both visitors’ and local residents’ perceptions of place. This paper explores aspects of the historic\ud and contemporary promotion of rural places

Topics: G1, GF
Year: 2006
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