(14 April 2015) – INJEP, the National Institute for Youth and People’s Education (France), has published a study shedding light on the life of rural youth.
Social scientists have studied rural youth to a much lesser extent than their urban counterparts. The aim of this new review of literature on the subject was to identify research on rural youth, showing both the diversity and commonalities. What are, in essence, their living conditions, their world views, and how do they differ from urban youth?
In his study, Benoit Coquard shows how rural youth was perceived by social sciences historically. Because a rural environment was seen as traditional and old-fashioned, rural youth have mostly been described as peasant, untouched by the changes in modern society.
However, this pessimistic and folkloristic view has largely been invalidated by recent research. The renewed interest in rural youth studies provides a more accurate knowledge of their situation, which is essentially no different from that of urban youth.
The specifics of rural youth hold true for many of its members, as most of them come from the working class and are often less educated than their urban counterparts. Rural youth also have to face the recurring dilemma of whether to stay or to leave the countryside to live and work in a more urban environment, especially against the backdrop of a changing rural economy, both in agriculture and industry.