Situating spatial justice in counter-urban lifestyle mobilitiesRelational rural theory in a time of crisis

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Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalGeografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography
Early online date16 Jun 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jun 2022
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The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed the rural idyll, as urban-dwellers seek greener, safer spaces. If the counter-urban trend appears for novel reasons, it does so along lifestyle mobilities’ well-worn paths. These paths often depend upon spatial inequalities. Yet, despite awareness that inequalities undergird mobilities, spatial inequalities have remained under-theorised in the lifestyle mobilities literature. This article remedies the gap through the concept of spatial justice. Initially asserting the ‘right to’ urban space, spatial justice has been recently re-thought at a regional scale, and is an emerging interpretation of rural marginalisation and redress. As a normative concept, however, spatial justice risks simplistically measuring distribution and presuming sedentarism. By applying spatial justice to lifestyle mobilities pre-pandemic and looking ahead to future shifts, we offer a nuanced, relational perspective on the theory and the field. Through qualitative case studies from rural and peripheral regions in Wales and Ireland, we show how inequalities and mobilities are complex and inter-related, with significant implications for regional sustainability, cohesion, and identity. As the discourse of being “all in this together” has rapidly unravelled, we argue that theorising spatial inequalities is an urgent task for futures beyond recovery – and that lifestyle mobilities are deeply implicated.