Migration, place and class: youth in a rural area

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The claims that locality, kinship, and social class are no longer the basis of ties that bind and of limited significance for identity in late modernity, remain seductive, despite their critics. Those who remain rooted are then presented as inhabitants of traditional backwaters, outside the mainstream of social change. This article presents young people's reasons for leaving or remaining in a rural area of Britain, the Scottish Borders. Young people's views about migration and attachment demonstrate a contradictory and more complex pattern than that of detached late-modern migrants and traditional backwater stay-at-homes. These stereotypes have some resonance in local culture, for example in disdain for rootless incomers lacking real sympathy with 'the community' and in the common accusation of the parochial narrow mindedness of locals who have never been elsewhere. However, such stereotypes emerge from complex social class antagonisms and cross-cutting ties to locality. Many young people's ties contradict the classifications these stereotypes imply. There are young out-migrants who are the children of 'rootless' in-migrants, but also, nevertheless, have lasting attachments to the locality of their childhood. Then there are young 'stayers' who are the children of 'born and bred' locals but yet feel serious disaffection from their locality. These 'attached migrants' and 'detached stayers' may not represent settled orientations to their locality of childhood, but they, nevertheless, contradict both certain local stereotypes and Baumanesque 'late modernist' sociological theorising.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-223
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2000




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