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FSD2699 Rural Finland 2011: Rural Development Specialists

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Authors

  • Hellström, Eeva (Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. Landmarks Programme)
  • Hirvola, Päivi (Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. Landmarks Programme)
  • Pesola, Inkeri (MTT Agrifood Research Finland)
  • Rantamäki-Lahtinen, Leena (MTT Agrifood Research Finland)
  • Vesala, Kari (University of Helsinki)
  • Vihinen, Hilkka (MTT Agrifood Research Finland)

Keywords

countryside, rural areas, rural economics, rural environment, rural migration, rural planning, rural policy

Abstract

The survey studied public opinion and experiences of the countryside in Finland and beliefs about the significance, development and future of rural areas. The barometer was developed for the Landmarks Programme carried out by the Finnish Innovation Fund (Sitra) to provide the programme with the latest information on the relationship of Finns to the countryside. This stage of the study surveyed the perceptions of rural development specialists.

First, the respondents were asked to what extent they connected certain qualities and issues to countryside and to urban areas (e.g. burden on the public economy, environmental-friendly way of life, freedom, social exclusion, good life, authenticity). Images of the countryside were charted by asking what kinds of places corresponded to their view of the countryside and which areas they saw as part of the countryside (e.g. holiday villages in rural areas, rural population centres, nature areas, rural areas dominated by agricultural areas). The experience of urban/rural identity was examined with questions on whether they thought themselves as city or rural residents and the importance of this identity to themselves and Finns in general. The respondents were asked in what kind of a neighbourhood their homes, holiday homes and workplaces were located and in what kind of a neighbourhood they preferred to live.

The respondents were also asked about their habits of spending time in different neighbourhoods during their working time, weekends and holidays. Views were probed on the intentions to move to a more urban or rural setting within the following ten years. Reasons for the importance of different places (e.g. friends in other regions, spending holidays) were studied.

The respondents were presented with a number of statements relating to the countryside, its image and future development and significance. Some questions covered what the respondents would like the countryside to be like in 2025, what countryside meant to them at the time of the survey and what they believed it would mean to them in ten years' time. Further questions explored the respondents' beliefs about whether the significance of rural areas would grow or diminish in Finland.

Some questions investigated what kind of business ventures they thought could have potential in the countryside (e.g. logistics services, organic production, renewable energy production), and to what extent they agreed with a number of statements related to entrepreneurship both in general and in the countryside.

Background variables included the respondent's year of birth, gender, education, political party choice if parliamentary elections were held at that time, economic activity and occupational status, annual gross income of household, job title and region of residence.

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