Welcome to the Research Study Group – Southern and Mediterranean Europe: Social Change, Challenges and Opportunities

At the beginning of XXI century, countries of Southern Europe were immersed in an uneven process of modernization and globalization, both material and cultural. This restructuring process has been radically hit by the deep crisis faced by Europe at present. This crisis is causing a profound impact on rural territories as it erodes some of the processes of rural development that these countries were experiencing in the last decades. On the one hand, economic recession has conveyed a loss of competitiveness and jobs in rural areas. On the other hand, following international directives (namely EU and IMF) policies implemented by countries have implied a severe reduction of public support to social welfare and development in rural territories, along with the implementation of a new model of governance. The outcome is an increasing number of rural areas experiencing a deterioration of life conditions: closure of schools and health centers,
depatrimonialization of commons, impoverishment of population, reduction of public transport facilities, increasing social inequality, and so forth. Hence, a new scenario is shaped where the sustainability of rural areas and rural population are at stake. Therefore, it is also crucial to understand not just the main challenges for the survival of rural territories, but also to study the room for maneuver and resilient
strategies of rural communities.

Having in mind, the long-term perspective of the crisis, it is easy to anticipate an even greater fracture between rural territories of Northern and Southern and Mediterranean Europe.This risk stresses the pertinence of promoting a network of research and study focused on the analysis of rural territories in Southern and Mediterranean Europe and the possibilities of success and sustainability of these rural areas in the new context. Thus, this RSG would have a double goal. Firstly, to foster the debate and analysis of the main processes underlying the restructuring of rural territories in Southern and Mediterranean European countries in the new scenario of crisis. Secondly, to work on joint applications that would allow subsequent comparative research.

Some examples of topics tackled by the group would be the following:
– To analyse the emergence of new social inequalities
– To explore the new processes empowerment and disempowerment of rural communities
– To study resilient strategies: mobilities, migrations, etc.
– To study the new model of rural governance
– To deepen the comparative analysis of rural welfare
– The rural livelihoods

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