The difference that rural rhythm makes

Pia Heike Johansen, Jens Kaae Fisker

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Revisiting the work of Henri Lefebvre, this chapter reconnects his early rural sociology with his late rhythmanalysis by applying his ‘method of residues’ to a study into the quality of everyday life in the Danish countryside. According to Lefebvre, the rural becomes an object of study when it poses practical problems to the urban elite, which is precisely what has happened with the rural–urban happiness paradox. Having heralded the coming of a new gilded age of the city, urban triumphalism is hard pressed to explain why the numbers do not add up; why do rural dwellers insist that they are doing fine? What qualitative difference does the rural make? The chapter seeks answers by analysing 289 photos and 78 photo collages submitted by rural dwellers in response to the simple question: what is quality of life in the countryside? This question was subsequently discussed in interviews conducted in the homes of informants. Three key findings emerged: by growing their own food rural dwellers hold on to, or reinvent, a peasant lifestyle; rural dwellers ‘let go’ of control by only concerning themselves with what is within reach; and communal rural life is filled with unavoidable encounters that are cherished rather than wished away. Moreover, a thread that runs throughout these themes is that natural and social phenomena alike are accentuated; rural life is more alive. These findings lead to a discussion about Rosa’s conceptualisation of resonance as an alternative to social acceleration and the rhythm of the rural quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRural quality of life
EditorsPia Heike Johansen, Anne Tietjen, Evald Bundgård Iversen, Henrik Lauridsen Lolle, Jens Kaae Fisker
PublisherManchester University Press
Publication dateJan 2023
ISBN (Print)978-1-5261-6163-5
ISBN (Electronic)9781526161642
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


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