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Using examples discuss Cloke's (2003) statement that the idea of idyllic rurality has 'rendered invisible the seamier side of rural life'.

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Restructuring the British Countryside Essay One Using examples discuss Cloke's (2003) statement that the idea of idyllic rurality has 'rendered invisible the seamier side of rural life'. Introduction Woodward (1996) regards the notion of the rural idyll as 'hazy and unclear' but goes on to settle with the definition 'a set of ideas about rural areas as aesthetically pleasant and desirable places to live in'. Two centuries ago the majority of the population lived in rural areas and were mainly people who worked hard for little whether it was self sufficiency or for local land owners. These poor farm labourers gradually moved to the urban areas with the sophistication of machinery and state legislative moves guiding them through loss of rural work (Short, 1992). And so here begins perhaps the idealisation of the rural from a place where the majority of us lived and knew and understood to the now idealised pleasant and desirable home of the minority. As the urban landscape is easily vilified by both rural and urban dwellers alike so is the rural revered. But are things as pleasant and arcane as we imagine? Perhaps it is the image itself that is the idyll and not the rural reality. So how is it that an impression of an area that covers a large part of the country and is evenly spread allowing access to ...read more.


who represented the farm worker, a character who was uneducated and na�ve with big rosy cheeks. Another is the television programme 'The Vicar of Dibley' which contains the characters of the powerful land owner, the poor uneducated farmer worker and other 'simple', healthy country folk. Woodward (1996) notes that poverty in the country becomes normalised so that it is no longer an issue but a necessary component of rural life. Perhaps the most famous example of rural representation is the radio programme the Archers. Originally a fictionalised farming informational programme the representation that it gave was discussed by the producers and it was deemed that it should be 'to present an accurate picture of country life...and the many problems of living that confront country folk in general' but also an intention that it should present a 'positive image' of country life for a predominantly urban audience (Laing,). Laing also notes that 'The programme development policy was to aim for a content of 15% instruction, 10-15% natural history and folklore and a remainder of entertainment based on the family unit of the small farmer construed as being the hardcore of the rural population.' With such representations going out to 20 million listeners in 1955 (Laing) and the English desire to construct an identity that seems to have become an amalgam of the farm labourer and the land owner we ...read more.


due to lack of public transport especially at 'farm work hours'. Loss of young people to the towns leads to loss of viability of shops and services (such as the buses) and schools. The same article records Liz Flood of the Countryside Agency as saying 'A lack of affordable housing seems to affect all aspects of rural life, such as maintaining a local force workforce or keeping schools open'. Conclusion The relationship between identity and policy is two way - policy may be built on identity but at the same time identity is changed or constructed through policy (Groote et al, 2000). Thus it is of extreme importance that the processes of representation and the power relations within that are understood by the policy makers if they are to fully fathom the issues in an area and tackle them competently. Does it matter that the popular discourse may be so wrong? Perhaps this also brings an economy to the countryside. Perhaps it is necessary for our own sense of national identity and our historical roots. Perhaps it gives us all some hope that there is an idyll out there somewhere or as Newby put it 'somewhere at the far end of the M4 or the A12 there are 'real' country folk living in the midst of 'real' English countryside in - that most elusive of all rustic utopias - 'real' communities'. (Laing). ...read more.

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