Rural spaces and places are usually characterised by low population densities and remoteness from urban centres, where services and facilities are concentrated. Within this largely functional context, there is, in the many countries within the Global North, assumed notions of rural areas being characterised by neighbourliness, strong community spirit, and a tradition of volunteering. This contribution examines whether these assumptions are aligned with rural experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Heralding social distancing, isolation, shielding guidelines, and exhortations to ‘stay at home’, the pandemic disrupted practices and rhythms of everyday life, with distinctive impacts in rural places. In this chapter we use four themes to frame reflections upon intersecting strengths and weaknesses of contemporary rural societies in relation to the pandemic, including population density, community services, the rural economy and digital connectivity. We consider how rural contexts embody and enact distinctive capabilities which have shaped ‘rural’ responses to an emergency situation. It is likely that these responses will have implications for future efforts to create and support resilient rural communities. We offer insights into future trajectories rural places might follow, and opportunities for future research, that are moulded by pandemic experiences.


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Maclaren, A. & Philip, L. 2021, 'Geographies of the rural and the Covid-19 pandemic', COVID-19 and Similar Futures, pp. 267-273. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-70179-6_35

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Last updated: 21 June 2023
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