Geographical and demographic variables to analyze the rural communities and rural development ICT4RD : Generation and regeneration

of the rural Catalan communities in the environment of Knowledge Society

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Presentation UOC Public on blog

21|12|2010 21|10|2010

Keywords

rural communities, rural development, ITC, knowledge society, rurality

This short article is written in response to the PAC3-GIR of UOC. This article is part of the action research into ICT in the organization of rural communities. Once the response is submitted to the UOC, it will be posted on my blog where it can be assessed and discussed online, under the creative commons license agreements indicated. 1 Abstract Rural Development is a valuable concept for the development of any country. If we speak about economic development of any country we shouldn’t forget rural areas. Their specific characteristics, geographical situation, demographic evolution and socio-economic development are present more difficulties than other geographical areas. For this reason, throughout history, the rural world has needed to develop collaborative ways of working. These relationships have evolved into communities: social and economic spaces. The objective of this article is to investigate which variables have been used to analyse the rural communities and rural development. For this reason it is important to know the social structures, patterns and processes that make up the communities. Finally, this study analyses which variables can be used to show how the new tools associated with the Knowledge Society allow the rural world to begin new ways to relate (social) and develop (economic) on the Internet. However, the existing organizations have the opportunity to adopt new structures and new forms to communicate through ICT and collaborate online. 1. Introduction To identify the variables to be analyses, first we must look at the social organization of the community. Bartle, in the module of indicators needed to empower communities, shows us how to categorize the analysis in six-social dimensions: Technological, Economical, Political, Institutional, Values and Worldview. Also he indicates Geographical and Demographic, non sociological categories, which we need to order our observations. In this study we try to analyse the data of the Atles de la Nova Ruralitat (Fundació del Món Rural, 2009) by using the Bartle indicators. We also use the specific bibliography of the rural development in Catalonia. Of course we focus our attention on the indicators to help us to study the possibilities of ICT tools in the rural spaces. In this article we focus our attention on the geographic indicators, but we will start to introduced the demographic approach. In any case we will analyse further in a future article to study the relation between the Bartle approach and Catalan data.

1 Ict4rd http://ict4rd.net/ research bloc. E-mail address: ricardespelt@gmail.com

Geographical and demographic variables to analyze the rural communities and rural development ICT4RD : Generation and regeneration of the rural Catalan communities in the environment of Knowledge Society

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2. Geographical and demographical indicators In the introduction of the Atlas of Catalan Rurality, Trepat (2009) indicates the most important causes of the changes of structures in the rural Catalan areas. The process of Catalan industrialization caused a large fall in population, a change in the social structure and opened a new way to develop the economy, through the tertiary sector, in areas that traditionally had traditionally been based on agriculture or livestock. However, for a long period of time, Catalonia had been considered an agricultural country until the beginning of the industrial and urbanization period. (Vilà,1973). Industry began to complement traditional agriculture. These complementary activities were the most important value in the economy of the rural spaces. (Ferrer i Alòs, 2009). In the next part of the article we analyse the Catalan data using the Bartle approach about geographic indicators. The relation between geographic and demographic values will give us the variables to study the rural communities.

Fig. 1. Effects of demographic changes in communities

Bartle indicates some effects of demographic changes in communities (Fig.1) that will be important to analyse to determinate the variables to observe the characteristics of our community. 3. The Geography of the rural communities in Catalonia The first questions we have to answer about the geographical communities according to the Bartle method of analysis are focused on terrain and climate: “Where is the community located? Is the terrain hilly, mountainous or flat? Is it next to an ocean, a lake, a river? Is the climate cold, hot, mixed, wet, dry, misty? How does the weather change over the year?

Geographical and demographic variables to analyze the rural communities and rural development ICT4RD : Generation and regeneration of the rural Catalan communities in the environment of Knowledge Society

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What crops, herds, gathering, hunting, and/or agriculture are suitable in the climate and terrain? Are there well defined planting, harvesting, hunting, fishing seasons in the year? What is the size by area of the community? What shape is made by its boundaries? How is it influenced by its geography? What is its location: latitude, longitude, proximity to other geographic features? What is the community relationship with the environment –– ecology? What natural resources are in or nearby: forests, fish, minerals, soil, wildlife, water, oil, or animals? Is the community taking advantage of any of those resources? Where does the community fit in (location) with its district, region, province and nation? How do each of these geographic variables affect the community, and its ability to help itself to become more self reliant? ” (Bartle) Catalonia started a lengthy agricultural period in the IX and X centuries. This period continued until the second half of the XIX century when the industrial process began. The problem of disperse settlement was the diversity of the land exploitation and geographical features. (Vilà, 1973). These characteristics of geography are very important to the analysis of the importance of collaboration in rural areas. We find more economic activity in the areas with more geographical benefits: more infrastructure, more proximity with the big urbanized areas and the warmer climate. The map (Fig.2) of the surface area and land use show us three different types of characteristics of the land. This division has different levels of anthropisation: the metropolitan area around Barcelona and the coast are the most urbanized areas. Then we can observe a long strip of crop area across the country. The forest area is concentrated in the Pyrenees. Even so, the physical rurality it not to be confused with the social rurality. Here the social and human activity is more important than the surface terrain. Synthetic indicators, such as the number of habitants and population density, are often used to reach final conclusions. (Aldomà, 2010).
Fig. 2. Surface area and land use, 2003. Mapa de la Nova Ruralitat (2009)

Geographical and demographic variables to analyze the rural communities and rural development ICT4RD : Generation and regeneration of the rural Catalan communities in the environment of Knowledge Society

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Fig. 3. Location of urbanized areas in relation to hypsometry., 2003 Mapa de la Nova Ruralitat (2009)

Fig. 4. Location of the area and crops in relation to the slope., 2003 Mapa de la Nova Ruralitat (2009)

The altitude and slope of the terrain is a decisive variable for the human and economic development in Catalonia (Fig.3&4). The most important activity is under 1000 m. where the climate is specifically Mediterranean, while over 1000 m. where the weather is wetter, there are less urbanized zones. In the areas under 1000 m. we find more road infrastructures, more urbanized spaces and more industrial and commercial zones. Also where the slope is more than 15% we can see more zones without urbanizations or crops areas. The climate map (Fig. 5) indicates a Mediterranean climate except in the Vall d’Aran where the climate is Oceanic. Even so, although the largest part of the country is Mediterranean, we can discover some substantial differences. While on the coast the weather is quite warm without substantial oscillations, in the interior weather is dryer and has a wider range of temperatures. In the mountains the temperature is lower and there is more precipitation.

Fig. 6. Climate map of Catalonia, 2003 Mapa de la Nova Ruralitat (2009)

Geographical and demographic variables to analyze the rural communities and rural development ICT4RD : Generation and regeneration of the rural Catalan communities in the environment of Knowledge Society

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4. Discussion and conclusions In our objective to find the variables to define rurality in relation to ICT in the geographical and demographic approach, we came across many difficulties. The first problem is to define the concept of rurality. To reach a definition of rurality it is necessary to consider the context we speaking of, because the concept has changed over the course of history. The concept of rurality in Catalonia needs two reflections: about the geographical occupation and social activity. Also we have an additional difficulty in that the separation of the rural and urban is more complex. The land occupation for industries and the relations between rural spaces and urban areas, for example, show the complexity in marking a frontier between rural and urban. Even taking all of these circumstances into consideration, some conclusions seem clear:
• The diversity of the geographical terrain must define the position of the community to

evaluate the complexity about the relation of the community with other spaces or communities (variable 1). • We must analyse the social activity in the environment of the community. We have seen that there is economic activity beyond agriculture in rural areas (variable 2). • We must analyse the connections between the rural and urban areas, with special attention to the possibilities of ICT. These connections help the development of the rural spaces and simplify the geographical distances (variable 3). The combination of these variables could demonstrate the real dimension of the geographical position of the rural community and their capacity of relating externally. It is clear that we need to use a qualitative research approach beyond the data of objective investigation to answer Bartle’s questions. The first variable helps us to see the benefits and disadvantages of the geographical position, in relation with the terrain and climate. The second shows the ability of the community to make use of the immediate environment. The final variable demonstrates the capacity of relationship of the community, and the value of ICT.

Geographical and demographic variables to analyze the rural communities and rural development ICT4RD : Generation and regeneration of the rural Catalan communities in the environment of Knowledge Society

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References Aldomà, I. (2009) Atles de la Nova Ruralitat Fundació Món Rural de Catalunya Bartle, P. (n.d) The Social Organization of the Community. http://www.scn.org/cmp/modules/rchcr.htm Ferrer i Alòs, Ll. (2009) La Catalunya rural, abans i ara Saga Ed. Barcelona, p.82 Rosell, J.& Viladomiu. L. (2007) Proposta de delimitació dels territoris per aplicar estratègies de desenvolupament local amb enfocament Leader pel període 2007-2013. DRUAB. Vilà, J. (1973) El món rural a Catalunya. Ed.Curial. Barcelona. Wikipedia (last version 18 August 2008) Clima de Catalunya a http://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clima_de_Catalunya Wikipedia (last version 6 December 2010) Mapa climàtic de Catalunya http://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitxer:Mapa_climatic_de_Catalunya.svg

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