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A place for life or a place to live

Rethinking village attachment, volunteering and livability in Dutch rural areas
PhD ceremony:Mr J.A. Gieling
When:March 12, 2018
Supervisors:prof. dr. D. (Dirk) Strijker, prof. dr. T. (Tialda) Haartsen
Co-supervisor:dr. L. Vermeij
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Spatial Sciences
A place for life or a place to live

Rural residents become increasingly responsible for local affairs through voluntary and community activity. This transition to a ‘participation society’ is remarkable, because recent societal developments have indicated less rather than more engagement within local communities. Due to increased levels of mobility, rural residents have an increased freedom of choice to select those living environments that fit with their lifestyles. As a result of this process many villages became ‘residential’, in which villagers live but do not necessarily spend their professional and social lives. Residents may be selective in not finding every aspect of rural living equally desirable and may also choose non-identification and nonparticipation. Thus, in order to discuss the opportunities and limitations provided by the ‘participation society’, the relationship between the changing forms of place attachment and villagers’ involvement in village life is the key focus of this thesis. The use of a nationwide and representative database allows for valid and reliable statements that apply to the wider rural population. The dominant picture that emerges from this thesis is one of a countryside that is open to a greater role to its residents. However, good social relations among residents are pivotal to guarantee a living environment in which all rural residents, regardless of age and geography, express high levels of satisfaction. Also, this thesis argues that governments should ensure that the needs of vulnerable people are also being met.