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Six conceptions of space: Rural/urban revisited

Conference contribution
Authors Mirek Dymitrow
Published in 5th Jubilee International Scientific Conference & Expo Geobalcanica, 13–14 June 2019, Sofia, Bulgaria
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Unit for Human Geography
Mistra Urban Futures
Language en
Keywords rural, urban, conceptions of space, knowledge production, geographical concepts
Subject categories Theory of science, Human Geography


Taking into consideration that social phenomena are of uneven prevalence, relevance and quality, those that excel in prevalence and relevance but underperform with regard to quality are the most likely ones to benefit from a critical analysis. ‘Rural’ and ‘urban’ seem to meet these criteria, and thus form the focus of this paper. However, the paper is not about ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ as geographical spaces (representations of the world), but as concepts purportedly thought to define geographical spaces (conceptions that we think represent the world). Understandably, concepts are the basic building blocks of all knowledge, while the strength of any societal project is dependent on the quality of those concepts. As two of the oldest geographical concepts still in widespread use, ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ stand in stark contrast to the immense changes encountered by society over the last century, let alone decades. This paper makes a structured case for reconfiguring our relationship with familiar conceptions of societal organization by critically evaluate the most common conceptions of ‘rural/urban’. As such, it may help facilitate decisions whether ‘rural/urban’ are truly analytically contributory to a specific line of thought or action, or whether they merely linger as a cultural obstinacy that is too elusive to be conquered or held.

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