• Morten Sig Møller
4. term, Social Sciences, Master (Master Programme)
The inspiration for this thesis has its roots in an increased focus on the rural areas in Denmark in the recent years. According to some, these areas lack any form of development and are know for negative population growth, causing a lot of different problems. Despite this image thousands of people are moving to these areas each years due to either job opportunities, romantic relationships or in order to fulfill an idyllic idea about a comfortable life in the countryside. Although people move to these areas each year, some of the newcomers are still moving away from the area. This entails that the rural communities and municipalities are still experiencing a decrease in their population size, which i.e. leads to lower tax revenues. In order to halt this downward tendency it is necessary to maintain and keep the newcomers in the area. The purpose of this master thesis is therefore to investigate if place attachment and preferences such as social activities, living cost and public goods change over time, given that this may be a sign of integration into the local community.

In order to investigate the above, the theoretical concepts of habitus, inspired by Pierre Bourdieu, and space/place are highly relevant, because they present an opportunity to explain this integration process – or lack hereof. The theoretical concepts will be used in both qualitative interviews and quantitative survey, which has been carried out to test this thesis. Both the participants in the survey and in the interviews consist of newcomers who have moved to the rural parts of Skive Municipality in central Jutland within the last 10 years.

The analysis is divided into two interconnected parts. The first part of the analysis investigates the affiliation and place attachment that newcomers have in regard to their new home. The analysis shows that some of the newcomers feel alienated and do not have particularly much in common with the local residents and these people are more likely to move away from the area again. Most of the newcomers, moreover, feel that they are becoming gradually more attached to their local community, which indicates that there is a larger compliance in habitus between the newcomers and the locals.
The second part of the analysis focuses on whether or not the newcomers prioritize different things in regard to their future settlement in the area. The findings show that the newcomers increasingly prioritize value social activities, nature and public services as important factors for continued settlement in the area. Those who value these things are less likely to move away from the area again in contrast to those that do not find these things important. This can indicate, that the newcomers have grown to appreciate the area and consequently have more of a place-attachment than space-attachment to the area.

The discussion will argue the findings in the analysis in regard to what can be done to prevent these newcomers from moving away. Generally it can be said that to prevent this emigration you need to establish a more coordinated effort between the local government and local community. It should, moreover, be carefully thought through and the consequences should be carefully examined if the local government decides to close i.e. the local school. This is due to a lot of the interaction between the locals and the newcomers arise from the things they have in common and interactions takes place at such venues. Furthermore, there need to be a serious discussion in Denmark concerning whether or not we want to maintain these rural communities, and if we do so, we need to make special arrangements for the local governments and communities in order to make these areas thrive and prosper.

It can be concluded that newcomers change their preferences and attachment over time. This could indicate that their habitus changes to look more like the locals, which means that they now have more in common with the locals. Those who lack common interests or value with the locals are more likely to move away, and it is therefore crucial to invest both time and funds to ensure a proper integration of these people, as they are the key to turn this negative trend around.
Publication date1 Jul 2016
Number of pages59
External collaboratorSkive Kommune
Anders Rask asra@skivekommune.dk
ID: 236354483