There is a widespread assumption that associates the rural with the unchanged and unchangeable. However, what constitutes 'the rural' is under constant transformation. In rural Europe a rapid process of social recomposition and economic restructuring is taking place causing increasing social complexity and new disputes about what is and should become the rural. This is more apparent in mountain areas, being locations that are particularly vulnerable to change. This situation is reflected in the growing diversity of discourses of rurality, which struggle to impose their particular views and interests on others. Nevertheless, little attention is paid in understanding the multiplicity of representations and interests held by rural dwellers about their own world. This paper aims to explore the diversity of perceptions and perspectives held by the inhabitants of the county of El Pallars Sobirà, in the Catalan Pyrenees. The material provided by semi-structured interviews given to local residents has been analysed through the Q methodology. As a result, four discourses of rurality have been identified, namely: the agriculturalist, entrepreneurial, conservationist and endogenous development. Finally, we argue that an underlying social structure, derived from the experiences of local dwellers of the rural population movements and the tertiarisation of local economies, exists behind the organisation of the debate on the rural. This leads us to assume that not only perceptions, but also socioeconomic reorganisations are in dispute. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Q methodology
- Rural change