Monday, 25 February 2013

"It would be wrong to assume"

These problems facing rural communities rarely get much coverage in the media. As a culture, we are in thrall to a sepia-tinted version of the landscape. The country is somewhere to escape to, or to watch on television; it is a place of fantasy. The BBC’s Countryfile now has impressive ratings of around seven million viewers.    It would be wrong to assume that those buying into TV’s rural dream are cosseted city-dwellers.
followed by a paragraph explaining why you don't have to assume it ....  as it is probably 'a fact' ...
An exodus to the country has already begun. The 2011 census revealed the startling statistic that there were 620,000 fewer white Londoners than in 2001, whereas everywhere else in Britain had seen an increase in equivalent groups. Explaining the trend, the BBC’s correspondent Mark Easton concluded that white families have cashed in on the property market, and bought cottages in the country or by the sea.
The trend is visible in many rural communities. Those with any professional or personal connection with the land are few. Not only are wages lower, but the shift from the towns has meant that property costs have increased, forcing young families to move away. The mindset in many small towns and villages is changing, too. It is becoming more urban.
So, exchange "cosseted in the city" by selling up (probably pocketing a nice windfall profit in the process) decamp to somewhere nice, but cheaper (thus extending the windfall) and be "cosseted there", and over time no doubt, hope to repeat the experience and to move on somewhere, even nicer ... especially when you no longer have to worry about the commute and can contemplate moving from your "countryside commuter dormitory" into the real thing ... Don't Channel 4 make a programme or two along those lines?

Terence Blacker "Stop treating rural life as mere fantasy"


Mark Wadsworth said...

I doubt whether there is an exodus to the countryside, I accept that some townies move to the country for a couple of years before they realise they can't stand it, but where do all the people who the townies displace go? I'd assume there's even less new construction in the countryside than there is in towns.

Bayard said...

Terence Blacker has a point, but the FBRI has been around for generations. To go further back, it is a feature of British social history that the rich industrialist sent his sons to public school, bought an estate in the country and joined the squirearchy. In Victorian times the professional classes joined them and in the mid C20th anyone with a bit of money was trying to retire to live the life of petty landed gentry. My personal experience is that most of the new building round the market town where I grew up was sold to retirees from the '70s onwards and that these formed the backbone of local NIMBYdom.

Kj said...

Aargh.. that has to be the most nonsensical article i've read so far this week. Horsemeat scandal a result of not enough subsidies and too well functioning a market. Isn't food actually safer than at any point in history or am I wrong...? And the poor countrysiders are being gentrified as well. FFS

MW: My impression is that the white folks, who are usually themselves from the countryside/small towns, or a generation away, are primarily moving out to small towns, in nice commuting distance to the city, not the actual countryside. This is the case over here anyway, and I suspect it's the same in the UK.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, Kj, this was Bob E's maiden post, but I'll respond anyway.

Short answer: yes and yes. It is the motor car which enables people to have the benefits of city life while pretending that they live in the countryside. (a point which The Stigler has made many a time).

Bayard said...

"It is the motor car which enables people to have the benefits of city life while pretending that they live in the countryside."

Well it was originally the railways who started the whole thing off and, to a large extent, continue it.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, true.