P-13/03 The countryside – a rural idyll or a boring place? Young peoples’ images of the rural

Based on a study among rural and urban college students this paper presents young people’s images of rural Norway. It elaborates their images and ideas of rural life and the rural population. Central questions are what images of rural Norway are dominant and whether there are differences between those living in urban and rural areas. The rural image might be of importance when people make their decisions about where to settle down. In popular discourses, in movies and media two opposing images of the countryside are presented; either ‘the rural life’ as an idyll or more commonly the converse, as peculiar, boring and old-fashioned. Both urban and rural youth construct the 'rural' as different from the 'urban’. While young urban people tend to endorse images of the rural as peculiar and boring – the outsider view – rural youth tend to present a less biased but ambivalent image – the general view where both advantages and disadvantages are recognised. We found also a gendered view where young (rural) women especially point to negative aspects of social control in rural areas.

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