Halliday, Anita J (1968) The extent of traditionalism in two English rural areas (a sociological study of attitudes to social status and to educational, occupational and geographical mobility in North Shropshire and in West Dorset). Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

Much present controversy among rural and urban sociologists centres upon whether The Rural-Urban Continuum Approach is a useful and valid framework for empirical research. Many adherents of this approach postulate two polar types, 'urban'and 'rural', the 'rural' type frequently being described as 'traditional' in character. Among different authors there is considerable consensus as to various components of the unitary type 'traditionalism'.
In this study four aspects of 'traditionalism' were selected for investigation in two rural areas of England. One of these, West Dorset, was much further removed from large conurbations than the other, North Shropshire. According to the Rural-Urban Continuum Approach, in both rural areas there would most probably be widespread 'traditionalism' with regard to all four variables, but in West Dorset 'traditionalism' would be more marked than in North Shropshire. Further, those engaged in agriculture, and those who had lived only in the country, would be more 'traditional' in all respects than those outside these groups in each place.
Empirical research in the two areas was therefore directed at investigating these hypotheses drawn from the Rural-Urban Continuum Approach.
When the data collected in the course of fieldwork was analysed, it was evident that the Rural-Urban Continuum Approach did not afford a satisfactory explanation of the findings. The relatively simple patterns of response indicated by the approach were not forthcoming. While a majority of informants in both areas did hold 'traditional' opinions on some subjects, they held 'non-traditional' opinions on others. Similarly, within 'rural' and 'agricultural' groups, there was no consistent tendency for respondents to be more 'traditional' than those outside these groups. Finally, the differences between North Shropshire and West Dorset informants were not of the straightforward kind indicated by the Rural-Urban Continuum Approach.
It was further observed that many variables apart from rural/urban residence or agricultural/non-agricultural employment appeared to affect respondents' attitudes in a pronounced way. (Including, for example, the social class and educational background of the respondents.) The Rural-Urban Continuum Approach did not explain such
'paradoxical' findings as the enthusiasm of ex-urbanites in both areas for many facets of a fixed status system, and for residential stability for their children. This enthusiasm must indeed be explained in terms of the value placed upon life in a rural community by the informants as a whole. Respondents of all classes and ages appeared to place high value on community life, but without necessarily taking a 'traditional' view of educational and occupational mobility.
It is suggested that the Rural-Urban Continuum Approach is insufficiently sensitive to predict or account for patterns of behaviour or attitudes in rural and urban areas. For this approach it would be preferable to substitute one recognising a distinction between locally oriented behaviour and attitudes, and nationally-oriented behaviour and attitudes.
Further, the concept of 'traditionalism' can be refined, so as to become a useful analytical tool, by distinguishing behaviour and attitudes which are purely customary from those which are dogmatically hostile to change. It should be helpful, in making explicit this distinction, to adopt the term 'traditional' to refer to the purely customary, while 'traditionalistic' refers to behaviour and attitudes dominated by a self-conscious desire to perpetuate the past. Further, it should be recognised that those people who are 'traditionalistic' will not necessarily have a coherent philosophy. Rather, the individual or group may have a 'traditionalistic' attitude upon relatively isolated questions.
The study therefore rejects one of the conventional theoretical approaches of rural and urban sociology. It seeks to lend support to alternative approaches which appear more interesting in their possibilities.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2019 09:42
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2019 09:45
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/5693

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