‘Lesbian migrants in the gentrified valley’ and ‘other’ geographies of rural gentrification
Smith, D.P. and Holt, L. (2005) ‘Lesbian migrants in the gentrified valley’ and ‘other’ geographies of rural gentrification Journal of Rural Studies, 21 (3). pp. 313-322. ISSN 0743-0167
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This paper explores the migration and cultural consumption practices of lesbian households within processes of rural change. Taking forward Phillips’ (2004. Progress in Human Geography 28, 5–30) discussion of neglected geographies of rural gentrification, and building upon Halfacree's (2001. International Journal of Population Geography 7, 395–411) critique of dominant conceptualisations of rural in-migrants, the paper presents empirical findings from a qualitative study of lesbian households in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. This follows up an earlier study of rural gentrification (Smith and Phillips, 2001. Journal of Rural Studies 19, 457–469). Lesbian households are shown to be a significant group that socially and culturally (re)produce distinct constructions of rurality, and act as gentrifiers via their migration, residential, and consumption practices. Many parallels to the migration processes of non-lesbian gentrifiers in Hebden Bridge are revealed, with the alternative cultural structures of Hebden Bridge being a key factor. We therefore argue that lesbian households should not be ‘othered’ within discourses of rural gentrification. The discussion emphasises the value of focussing upon neglected socio-cultural groups in robust ways, in order to shed light on the wider lifestyles and experiences of diverse rural populations, and to deepen understandings of other geographies of rural gentrification.
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