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Marta Pasqualini

The COVID pandemic, requiring everyone to be locked down at home, might have exacerbated the impact of living spaces on individuals’ quality of life by widening urban–rural differences in subjective well-being in France. By using a probability-based panel study, we explored changes in subjective well-being from the pre-pandemic period (2019) to about one year into the pandemic (April 2021). In addition, we investigated between-individuals differences based on rural–urban differential factors (i.e. compositional factors) and within-individuals differences based on events that have been experienced during the pandemic period (i.e. contextual factors). Small cities show greater levels of well-being regardless of specific compositional and contextual factors, suggesting that they have better reacted to the pandemic than other locations.

in Rural quality of life
Comparing two survey waves (2008–2018)
Federica Viganò
,
Enzo Grossi
, and
Giorgio Tavano Blessi

Individual well-being is a multidimensional concept based on physical and psychological dimensions. As far as psychological well-being is concerned, there are several factors affecting its value, including income, age, gender, education, civic status and employment. One of the most interesting variables which has been considered in the literature is related to the place of residence, differentiating the urban and rural settings. The purpose of this population-based country study is to examine the association between subjective individual well-being and urban and rural areas in Italy, comparing the data of two survey waves (run in 2008 and 2018) in a statistically significant sample of 1,500 citizens among the Italian population. At a general level, in ten years some variables have changed, but if in 2008 the score for perceived well-being was higher in the rural context, in 2018 results show a similar level of subjective well-being among rural and urban dwellers. The results reveal even more interesting aspects when one looks at the variation of the determinants of well-being in the two areas, showing that some immaterial aspects, such as social relations and cultural life, become relevant determinants of subjective well-being for both contexts, independently from the differences in the cultural and social supply in the rural and the urban life.

in Rural quality of life
Balancing quality of life expectations with reality
Simona Zollet
and
Meng Qu

Japanese peripheral rural communities have been undergoing a dramatic demographic and social-economic decline, with many facing the concrete threat of disappearing over the next decades. Recently, however, there has been an increase in the number of people moving from urban to rural areas, primarily for lifestyle-related reasons. These rural in-migrants typically seek lifestyle change and more meaningful ways of living, driven by disillusionment with a stagnating economy and growing social and economic precarity. This chapter discusses the findings of a research project on domestic rural in-migrants in the islands of the Seto Inland Sea in Western Japan. The research focuses on people who migrated out of lifestyle reasons and are now living on the islands. The chapter qualitatively explores the ways in which respondents imagine, construct and (re)negotiate their desired lifestyles according to individual ideals of what constitutes quality of life, seen through the challenges and opportunities arising from living in small island communities. The results highlight the different ways in which in-migrants are experimenting with alternative rural lifestyles, and their struggles and successes in balancing economic and social needs with non-capitalistic notions of quality of life and well-being.

in Rural quality of life
The case of Denmark
Rolf Lyneborg Lund

This chapter revolves around perceived quality of life in different places in Denmark. The chapter is based on a large survey (N=42,500) in combination with Danish register data as well as a wide range of geographical data used to create a new method to capture neighbourhood effects at a much smaller scale than administrative units. Findings in this chapter are two-fold. On one hand, there is no doubt that Danes, in general, are very content with life and are happy. Nevertheless, relatively large differences are found when comparing rural Denmark with urban Denmark, where the rural parts of Denmark are significantly more content with life than their urban counterparts. Furthermore, when comparing socio-economic status of the neighbourhoods in rural and urban settings respectively, it becomes clear that the rural well-off neighbourhoods are the happiest, while the urban least well-off neighbourhoods are the least happy. These results indicate that there are close-knit geographical differences in quality of life and that degree of urbanism could be ascribed to some of the measurable differences.

in Rural quality of life
A capability approach to voluntarism, inclusion and quality of life in rural Norway
Kjersti Tandberg
and
Jill Merethe Loga

Central topics in research on the quality of life, well-being and health are the importance of interaction, social networks, inclusion and trust. This chapter presents some former research on the connection between voluntary work and quality of life. Further, it introduces some of the characteristics of participation in Norwegian volunteering by ethnic marginalised groups and some contextual characteristics of the voluntary sector in Norway. The capability approach of Amartya Sen functions as an overarching theoretical framework, highlighting both individualistic and contextual elements and how they interconnect and produce certain structures for social inclusion. The empirical contribution in this chapter consists of a case study on volunteering performed by ethnic marginalised women in a voluntary organisation called Neighbourhood Mothers. The data used for this chapter was collected in the municipality of Kvam Herad (a town of 8,467 citizens) in Western Norway county, and Oslo, the capital of Norway (a city of 693,494 citizens). The case study has found that inclusion in a voluntary organisation has a huge impact on ethnic marginalised women’s experienced well-being and quality of life. There are more marginalised minorities in Oslo than in Kvam. Still, the voluntary organisation seems to be a more important arena for social inclusion in rural areas than in cities, which is crucial for people’s experienced well-being and quality of life.

in Rural quality of life
COVID-19 through the lens of moral geographies in two rural Colorado communities
Michael Carolan

This chapter reflects on questions that all-too-often go unasked in quality of life research. Questions like, ‘Are higher levels of well-being always a good thing?’ and ‘Are there circumstances where high levels of well-being in a given community could be seen as a warning sign rather than a cause for celebration?’ To think through these questions, I examine a dataset drawn from two rural communities in Colorado (US). The project began in late 2019 and concluded in the summer of 2020, which means it draws from pre- and post-outbreak (COVID-19) data. One community is located on the rural eastern plains of the state, while the other is located in the Rocky Mountains within a frontier county – ‘frontier’ is a subset of the ‘rural’ classification to refer to US counties with population densities of six or fewer persons per square mile. These communities also differed in terms of their demographic compositions, with one being overwhelming white while the other had recently seen a considerable influx of immigrants. The research points to how ‘rural’ and ‘rural well-being’ cannot be understood monolithically, while also proving they can be good to think about from the perspective of troubling concepts like happiness and satisfaction.

in Rural quality of life
Abstract only
Christiaan De Beukelaer

In early 2020, Christiaan De Beukelaer embarked on the Avontuur, a hundred-year-old schooner as part of his research into the revival of wind-propelled cargo vessels. He follows in the footsteps of Richard Henry Dana Jr, Eric Newby, and Alan Villiers, who sailed on ‘working ships’ when they still transported goods across the oceans. While at sea, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which left seafarers, including the crew of the Avontuur, stranded aboard their ships.

in Trade winds
Christiaan De Beukelaer

As the Avontuur called in at Honduras, Belize, and Mexico to load cargoes of green coffee and cacao beans, it became clear that we would not be allowed to disembark for shore leave, let along crew change. When in ports, the sheer scale of the global shipping industry became apparent. Would transporting a negligible amount of luxury products to well-meaning European consumers make a difference that’s worth the effort of spending months at sea?

in Trade winds
Christiaan De Beukelaer

The trade winds have barely changed since humans first set sail. Nor have the physical principles of wind propulsion changed. Even the organisation of shipboard life in the twenty-first century closely resembles the lives described by Richard Henry Dana Jr, Eric Newby, and Alan Villiers. What has changed is that we’re now in a race against climate change to transform the shipping industry more quickly than it ever has in history. As we sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, in an attempt to change the world, the world itself had changed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

in Trade winds
Abstract only
Christiaan De Beukelaer

Christiaan De Beukelaer joins the schooner Avontuur in Tenerife as a researcher studying the potential of traditional wind-propelled ships to help decarbonise the shipping industry. He signs on as a trainee crew member, standing watch eight hours a day to sail the hundred-year old ship across the Atlantic Ocean to pick up cargo in the Caribbean and Central America.

in Trade winds