Further participants: Kiss, Márta and Melanie Kay Smith
Self-promotion and reinterpretation of local identity is becoming increasingly important in rural communities in Hungary. Local identity building is achieved very differently by rural municipalities and regions. Rural image, place branding and place making are regarded as crucial sources for rural development, both in touristic and non-touristic areas. Rural sociology literature argues that the characteristics of place as local resources are particularly important for rural development strategies.
Research about rural Hungary suggests that rural image is often characterized by pre-modern values which play an important role in the motivation for rural migration and tourism. It is also shown that an interest in the past can help in fostering a sense of continuity, dealing with change, and developing adaptive strategies (resilience).
Based on both quantitative and qualitative sociological methods the main goal of the research is to understand what are the connections and relations between rural image, local identity and the population dynamics and living strategies of different rural areas in Hungary. The research purpose to present the local identity, rural image and local living strategies in four different rural areas. The planned research connects to previous research in rural image, rural restructuring and local identity in Hungary and presents systematic analyses of the changes that have occurred in the last decades.
The research seeks to understand the processes in which different type of rural places and communities revitalise and rebuild their local image and identity in the context of local development. We seek to understand how rural image and identity can contribute to population dynamics as well as rural resilience. Based on both quantitative and qualitative sociological methods the main goal of the research is to understand what are the connections and relations between rural image, local identity and the population dynamics and living strategies of different rural areas in Hungary. In the research we plan to conduct case studies in four different micro-regions: in a suburban (1), in a touristic (2), in a prospering district with agricultural character (3) and in a socially and economically backward district (4). The following research questions were formulated:
- How can placemaking contribute to improving sense of place, quality of life, strengthening identity and positive internal and external image?
- What role can cultural heritage and tourism play in fostering a sense of continuity, dealing with change, and developing adaptive strategies?
- What are the patterns of living strategies, local identity and rural image in the different rural areas?
- How is local identity presented and represented inside and outside of the local community?
- What are the main characteristics of rural image in the case study areas? Who are the key actors of local image building and what roles they do act in construction process?
The novelty of the research that it will analyse local identity, rural image and living strategies in a complex manner, so it can help us to better understand the resilience of rural communities. Thus the research broadens our knowledge about contemporary Hungarian rural society and agriculture. The planned research connects to previous research in rural image, rural restructuring and local identity in Hungary and presents systematic analyses of the changes that have occurred in the last decades. Although these phenomena are discussed usually independently from each other, we argue that there is an interdependency among them. We also aim at analysing the role of local identity and rural image in less visited and non-touristic areas. Although scientific attention is mostly focused on the successful communities we also aim to discover how local identity and rural image is connected to living strategies in back-warded areas. The comparison of the different cases will allow us to better understand rural resilience.
The research may also have more direct effect at the local level and could be used also in policy development. The results of the research may help in rural and agricultural policy formulation by demonstrating the role of local identity and rural image in the development of local economy and society. We also argue that there may be important implications for placemaking, sustainable development, and destination management by specifying the role of different stakeholders in those processes. According to our aims the research will also identify the possibilities, importance and success of using local assets and cultural heritage in rural development strategies.