Changing Villages: What about people?

Maarten Loopmans
In cooperation with: 

Frans Thissen

Tialda Haartsen

Dirk Strijker

Continuing education type: 


Although many developed countries are strongly urbanized, a significant share of their inhabitants still live in villages with a relatively peripheral position with respect to urban networks. The inhabitants of such villages have been confronted with changes in the wider society with direct consequences for their geographical mobility (Sheller & Urry, 2006), their way of life as reflected in day path and life path (Torsten Hägerstrand, 1970) and their perspectives on education, jobs and income, health and life expectancy, local quality of life and resilience.


Rural change from the second world war onwards is traditionally characterised as a transition from a productive order towards a consumptive order. Changes in the economic structure and the technology of mobility are at the basis of this transition. Many relations of villagers, especially with jobs and services, changed from a local to a regional scale. From a perspective of the villagers this change is often described in a negative way, regarded as loss. However, the residential and recreational function of villages became increasingly important. In general villages experienced a transition from relatively autonomous villages towards more or less residential villages within housing markets and catchment areas that function at a regional scale.


The above described processes of regional restructuring are still going on. However, the second demographic transition and the globalisation of the economy is resulting in a context that differs strongly from the context of the changing villages in the last century. Ageing and population decline, youth migration and brain drain and changes in the rural economy result in new social divides, reinforcing the distinction between the elected and the excluded. Combined with a neo-liberal economic policy and reforms of the welfare states, a growing polarization at a regional and local level is reported in European countries. This results in new experiences of local and regional loss and in various forms of discontent, distrust and political unrest, especially in rural regions and villages.

This international seminar, whose title hints at Hägerstrands’ seminal paper ‘What about people in Regional Sciences’ (1970), aims to address how inhabitants of different types of changing rural villages have experienced such processes of transition and how they expect to deal with this in the near future.

Target group: 
besloten workshop
language of the programme: 
Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - 12:00 to Friday, September 22, 2017 - 17:00
Total hours of contact: 
Van Den Heuvelinstituut- Dekenstraat 2, 3000 Leuven lokaal VHI 00.64
Registration fee: 
explanation registration fee: 

vermeld referentienummer: 400/0015/17481

Maarten Loopmans
Organising unit: