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Negotiating the Value of 'Slow' in Amenity Migration


Osbaldiston, N and Picken, F, Negotiating the Value of 'Slow' in Amenity Migration, Global Amenity Migration Transforming Rural Culture, Economy and Landscape, The New Ecology Press, L Moss and R Glorioso (ed), United States, pp. 83-97. ISBN 9780993635106 (2014) [Research Book Chapter]

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Copyright 2014 L.A.G. Moss & R.S. Glorioso

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There is no question that amenity migration is multi-layered, requiring as Karen O'Reilly (2012) suggests a tiered approach in research methodology and theoretical considerations. This volume of work, and Moss' (2006) previous edited collection, attests to this logic. While many, including the authors of this chapter, have dealt extensively with question of motivation for retreat into the countryside {Benson, 2011; Moss, 2006; Osbaldiston, 2012; Picken & Franklin, 2012), others have sought to gain an increasing understanding of the extent and impacts of amenity-led migration on townships, their natural surrounds, economies, and resources in small townships (Abrams, et al., 2012; Burnley & Murphy, 2004; Glorioso & Moss, 2007; Halfacree, 2012). Such discussions are vital for the ongoing management of places that have been altered by unprecedented population turnaround in recent years. In an era that is especially dominated by the risks, vulnerabilities, and importantly, the unknowns of climate change, further exploration of the tensions between amenity-led migration and dynamics of environmental and social relations within place is essential.

It is well noted that some areas have been unalterably changed by gentrification as a result of an influx of wealth and a middle-class culture, assets, and expectations {Moss, 2006; Osbaldiston & Picken, forthcoming; Stefanick, 2008), and that the pull of environmental and social amenity can lead to a colonization of areas, a loss of place identity, and the production of new consumer based ethics within places through a middle-class thirst for authenticity (Ehrenreich, 2009; Zukin, 2010). Despite these structural and social difficulties, we argue there are often benefits that are missed. In recent research conducted by the authors, planners and community groups have suggested that migration into country settings also brings skills and expertise that can enhance community organizations and other groups. Clearly, amenity-led migrants can also be very active members of volunteer organizations that promote resilience and enhance civic/political engagement (Atkinson et al., 2009; Pahl, 2005). However, in this chapter we seek to go beyond these "usual suspects", and explore the potentials embedded in amenity migration (especially into rural/mountain landscapes) for the transformation of the self toward a "slow" paradigm. While this is difficult to quantify or demonstrate, we propose that in a culture where clock-time is valued as equally as money (Adam, 1995), and where the instantaneity of "fast capitalism" creates anxiety and stress through the pursuit of positional goods (Agger, 2004; Schor, 1998), the ability to "slow down", both temporally and metaphysically, fosters and is fostered by attention and emotional attachment to place. In order to do this, we seek to interrogate the manner in which people engage with two particular amenities in more rural settings - sociality and nature. Both, we argue, co-produce what can be a distinct spatial and temporal experience from the city, through an alternative assembly around the relations of "pace" and place.

Slow places emphasize a dichotomous relationship with fast places, often conceptualized as the slow local vis--vis the fast global (Knox, 2005). As the name suggests, the movement introduces a temporal dimension to place, and this pace corroborates ideas about scale and intensity of interconnectedness or networks (Castells, 2000). In "fast" or "global" systems, daily life, including activities as disparate as food production and parenting, increasingly succumb to hyper rationalization, economies of scale, and a loss of the unique attributes (including the pulse) of a place. For this reason, part of the challenge of amenity migration, as a regeneration strategy in rural settings, is the need to control volume as a precursor to containing speed (Fullagar et al., 2012). At the same time, slow movements encourage a "spirit of genuine hospitality toward others" in the appreciation and sharing of localness (Cittaslow International Network, n.d.). In this way, slow places have the very real potential to attract amenity migrants in the process of fulfilling this obligation. Here amenity migrants may be actively engaged with, and "know" the place, having chosen to move to and "be" there. Alternatively, amenity migrants may be seen as not knowing and not being fully appreciative of "place", disrupting its rhythm rather than contributing to the development of slow. The relationship is complex but well worth pursuing since, as we argue below, those who engage with slow movements are not too distinct from the amenity migrants we study in our work generally. This chapter will describe the various conditions under which each develop and relate their similarities to one another, while further suggesting that the slow narrative has strong potential for positive engagements with community and place in amenity migration.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Environmental sociology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Picken, F (Dr Felicity Picken)
ID Code:99436
Year Published:2014
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2015-03-24
Last Modified:2018-08-07

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