Y-a-t-il un tournant de la ruralité aujourd’hui en France ? Réflexions sur les mots du rural à partir du projet Ruralization.

Numerous French studies have focused on the issue of urban-rural relations, often with contradictory positions. It has been shown that the change in conception and action of these city-countryside relations takes place in ‘periods’ marked by ‘turning points’ most often linked to political, economic or environmental events beyond the French scale. This leads to an evolution in the designation of words and processes in time and space according to three spheres: political/institutional, scientific and civil society. The acceleration of problems and crises (increasing precariousness, erosion of biodiversity, climate change, etc.) and the global pandemic of the Covid-19 cannot but have repercussions on the ideal and real evolution of what has recently been called ‘ruralities’. By asking the question of ‘rural regeneration’, the European project Ruralization gives us the opportunity to deepen these questions while taking into account the specific contexts of several countries of the European Union and invites us to reflect on what rurality is today in Europe. This paper aims to present more specifically an introductory reflection on the words of the rural in France, with regard to other European countries, in order to propose some elements of definition of rurality. In a desire to extend older approaches (Mathieu, 1990, 1998), our objective is to put into perspective, in the long term, what French rurality is today and to define its essential elements, a rurality which today seems to be undergoing profound transformation. This paper is based on bibliographical work, but also on field surveys carried out in the Manche (Granville Terre et Mer and Coutances Mer et Bocage) and in the plain of Versailles (in the Île-de-France), which enabled us to build up a corpus of several dozen interviews.

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