Articles (21)

Editorial

14 June 2024

Article

31 May 2024

Advancing Green Infrastructure Solutions in Rural Regions: Economic Impacts and Capacity Challenges in Southwest Ontario, Canada

Green infrastructure (GI) is a growing topic in urban planning, asset management, and climate change adaptation. However, rural regions have been under-represented in the discourse. This paper explores the benefits and challenges associated with the implementation and management of GI through a regional study of rural communities in southwestern Ontario. Our focus concerns the inter-relationships between GI, economic resilience, and the development of rural places. Findings show rural communities benefit from GI initiatives like natural stormwater management, park naturalization, and natural heritage restoration, which provide low-cost municipal services, conserve agricultural soils, and contribute to the amenity appeal of rural places. Challenges surrounding awareness, organizational capacity, and environmental regulation have slowed the uptake of GI and led to inconsistencies across jurisdictions. A mix of supportive policies, funding of demonstration projects with economic monitoring, and training to build professional capacity will advance the use and efficacy of GI across rural regions.

Jay Maloney
Sean Markey*
Ryan Gibson
S. Ashleigh Weeden

Article

14 May 2024

Measurement and Structure of Common Prosperity of Urban Residents the Case of Hangzhou, China

Common prosperity is an important feature of the social state that the people of the world aspire to, and an important feature of the Chinese path to modernization. Taking common prosperity as the result of income and assets does not facilitate a full understanding of people’s common prosperity, because common prosperity also includes people’s pursuit of subjective happiness such as happiness and satisfaction. From the perspective of the need for a better life in China, this study constructs a subjective evaluation system of the common prosperity of urban residents, including 5 dimensions and 25 specific indicators. It uses survey data from 460 participants and applies the graded response models to estimate parameters and predict latent variables. We find that 21 indicators are in line with the reasonable range of basic assumptions and parameters. They have a strong ability to distinguish the common prosperity of residents in different regions, but have different functional characteristics. The confirmatory factor analysis shows that the common prosperity index of residents includes four potential factors: income, education, medical care, and old-age care, and ecology, which has a good structural effect. In terms of weight, education, medical care and old-age care are the most important factors influencing common prosperity. Among them, the classification policy of high school entrance examination, the quality and fairness of primary and secondary education, the degree of medical insurance security, and the waste sorting and community security are important aspects of evaluating the Common prosperity of residents. 

Mei Zhang*
Zenghui Huo
Shenjie  Xu

Article

19 April 2024

Can Digital Village Construction Reduce Rural Income Disparity?—Empirical Analysis Based on Inter-provincial Panel Data in China

Cutting the income disparity within rural areas is one of the key priorities in seeking common prosperity in China. Based on the panel data of 20 provinces in China from 2011 to 2020, we empirically analyze the impact of digital village construction on rural income disparity by building a digital village construction level indicator system which represents three dimensions of digitalization in rural areas, i.e., digitalization of rural infrastructure, digitalization of agricultural development and digitalization of rural residents’ life. Overall, the level of digital village construction in rural China has shown a development trend of gradual improvement, while the development level in various regions is unbalanced and varies greatly. The results of the fixed-effect model show that, digital village construction can significantly reduce the income disparity in rural areas, whereas the effect is significant in eastern China, insignificant in central and western China. It is recommended to increase the investment in funds and talents and take full consideration and advantage of local conditions, while promoting the development of new rural digital economy, so to achieve the development goal of common prosperity of rural residents.

Yuanjian Deng
Caiyun Li
Huichun Sun*

Article

01 April 2024

Identity, Secondary Vocational Education Options and Return on Investment: Evidence from Children of Rural Chinese Families

With the continuous improvement of living standards, the importance of educational choice becomes more and more prominent. Based on the data of China General Social Survey (CGSS), a simultaneous equation model of identity, secondary vocational education choice and investment return is constructed. On the basis of fully considering endogeneity and sample selection bias, this paper analyzes the influence of identity on secondary vocational education choice and investment return by means of instrumental variables and propensity score matching (PSM). It is found that class differentiation is the main factor affecting class identity. The more blurred class differentiation, the higher class identity. Class identity has a significant positive impact on identity. The higher class identity, the easier it is to form identity. Identity has a direct positive impact on personal investment return. The stronger the identity, the higher the investment return. At the same time, identity has a significant positive impact on the choice of secondary vocational education. The stronger the identity, the more inclined to choose secondary vocational education. Compared with individuals with junior high school education, individuals with secondary vocational education have a higher return on education investment. Therefore, identity can not only directly improve an individual’s return on investment, but also improve the possibility of an individual’s choice of secondary vocational education, thereby improving an individual’s return on education investment, and ultimately increasing an individual’s return on investment.

Qiang Chen
Zhiming Yu
Chen Liu
Kaihua Zhang*

Article

22 March 2024

Community Sport, Australian Sport Policy and Advocacy: A Qualitative Study of Stakeholder Perspectives

This article explored aspects of the community sport policy process in rural New South Wales, Australia, focusing on the views of community sport club (CSC) officials relating to policy matters. Community sport represents a complicated policy arena, and rural communities face a level of disparity compared with better-resourced urban CSCs, particularly concerning policy implementation and advocacy issues. Officials at CSCs from ten different sports (n = 10) in a rural setting participated in semi-structured interviews to pinpoint themes common in the community sport policy process. Further, the research identified aspects of the connections that impact CSCs, including those with government and National Sporting Organisations (NSOs). To highlight the beliefs and attitudes of the CSC officials, the interviews had two key thematic foci—implementation and advocacy—and the findings highlighted sub-themes relating to the fundamental interests of CSCs. Overall, the research accentuated the hierarchical nature—a power imbalance—of sport policy processes, the potential for CSCs to have a bottom-up role in policy creation, and the consideration of a policy analysis and evaluation structure such as the Advocacy Coalition Framework. Finally, the outcome points to enthusiasm for strengthening community sport by giving CSCs a voice through localized advocacy.

Charles Mountifield*

Review

29 February 2024

Conceptualizing an Informational Paradigm in the Pursuit of Sustainable Cities and Communities

This study seeks to conceptualize ‘Informational Sustainability’ by examining the dynamic relationship between Sustainable Development and the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Revolution through the exploration of two prominent urban theories—Lefebvre’s ‘Right to the City’ and Castells’ ‘Rise of the Network Society’—to underscore the importance of knowledge integration in the development of informed, sustainable communities. Conducting a cross-country comparison between developed and developing nations, the study underscores the critical role of informational transformation in enabling resource efficiency, knowledge sharing, innovation, and informed decision-making—key for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while also highlighting potential risks associated with resisting ICT adoption, including hindered growth, increased inequalities, and reduced social engagement and environmental stewardship. The core focus of this conceptual framework is to validate the precursor role of ICT in building sustainable cities and communities by identifying synergies in Sustainable Development, defining dimensions for effective ICT application within the dynamic interplay of global and local levels, and identifying implementation gaps and necessary presumptions for its effective use.

Ilonette AbdehTabar
Elizelle  Juaneé Cilliers *

Article

06 February 2024

Geographical Discrepancies in Higher Education in Sweden

There is a growing awareness of the importance of higher education in Sweden to reduce social differences in society. There are also various mechanisms that individuals relate to that favour either the status quo or change based on an ideal of higher education. Individuals live in a geographical context with a number of ‘key actors’ who influence the perception of higher education with varying degrees of intensity. Paradoxically, despite several reforms to broaden recruitment, it can be seen that relative inequalities persist in terms of residents with higher education in Sweden, not least from a regional perspective. The purpose of this article is to shed light on geographical differences in the higher education level of the population over time from a Swedish perspective. The study shows that higher education has a geographical centre-periphery perspective, but not exclusively. There are thus additional influencing factors that in various ways relate to the social context in which the individual is located. We can conclude from our empirical data that the reforms implemented to broaden recruitment have not had the desired effect, especially for the group of men. We find it likely that what differentiates women and men is who their individual ‘key players’ are and how they interact. From an academic education perspective and as an intermediary of higher education, there is therefore a challenge to be able to identify who these “key players” are in order to be able to be an important actor in contributing to the desired broader recruitment that the government is striving to achieve.

Thomas Blom*
Mats Nilsson

Comment

19 January 2024

New Geographical (Im)materialities in Rural Spaces for a Renewed Countryside in the Global North. Some Key Comments in the Rural Geography Debate

From the point of view of the new (im)materialities and the relevance of vernacular house in the process of rural change and restructuring, this contribution comments some possible innovative ways of research in rural studies. The objective of the study is to bring the attention about the relevance of vernacular houses in the process of global rural change and restructuring and their particular expressions in localities and vernacular houses. The methodology in qualitatively based on auto-biographical and ethnographical research based in three houses of study in a marginal rural area of central Spain. The main conclusions suggest a process of hybridization of people and vernacular houses with two different circuits: new comers and traditional populations.

Angel  Paniagua*

Article

11 January 2024

Plant Proteins Availability in Europe and Asia: A Causality Analysis of Climate, Demographics, and Economic Factors

The article examines the availability of plant-based proteins in Europe and Asia, considering the challenges posed by climate, demographics, and economics. The availability of these proteins is crucial given the growing impact of climate, economic, and social variables. Indeed, these factors play a decisive role in the production and accessibility of plant-based proteins across countries. The study employed a causality analysis method using regression models to determine the relative impact of these factors on protein availability. Two indicators were prioritized: total national production and the daily accessible quantity per person. This approach made it possible to construct hypothetical trajectories, showcasing the interrelations between the different variables. The results show that the availability of plant-based proteins varies across regions. Factors such as rising temperatures, increasing pollutants, and rising prices of plant proteins are particularly concerning. In this context, legumes appear as a promising alternative. They offer resilience against climatic variations while being an excellent protein source. The findings also encourage rethinking our consumption. Meat, with its significant ecological footprint, should see its consumption decrease in favor of plant-based proteins, ensuring a more sustainable diet. To facilitate this transition, the importance of appropriate public policies and incentives for producing and consuming plant proteins is emphasized.

Kossivi Fabrice Dossa*
Yann Emmanuel Miassi
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