Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 75 ›› Issue (2): 398-409.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202002013

• Agriculture and Rural Development • Previous Articles     Next Articles

On the re-cognition of rural definitions

HU Xiaoliang1, LI Hongbo1,2(), ZHANG Xiaolin1,2, YUAN Yuan1   

  1. 1. School of Geography Science, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing 210023, China
  • Received:2019-03-21 Revised:2019-12-11 Online:2020-02-25 Published:2020-04-25
  • Contact: LI Hongbo
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41501187);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41571164);National Natural Science Foundation of China(51778002)


Rural areas are the core concept of rural geography. The cognition of rural definitions guides the development direction of rural geography. Analysis of rural definitions has been a research hotspot in Western rural geography. Western rural geography is also developing with the deepening of scholars' understanding of rurality. The development of rural geography in China focuses on serving the needs of economic and social development, and there is little discussion on the principles and basic concepts of the discipline, which gradually leads to the situation that theory lags practice. The concept of rural areas is always changing. In recent years, there have been more and more studies on the rural diversified paths and multifunctional transformation and development. Historical experiences have proved that the connotation of rural concept has been constantly broken and subverted by the reality of rural transformation and development. The basic understanding of rurality in the past urgently needs to be changed and expanded, which also shows that the definitions of rural areas is worthy of continuous discussion. With the strategy of rural vitalization put forward, the development of rural areas in China in the new era is of unprecedented importance. This paper sorts out the evolutionary context of cognition of rural definitions and rurality in related research fields at home and abroad, and proposes that rural conceptual cognition gradually changed from single to multiple, from passive to active, from static characteristics to dynamic process. And then, this paper deepens the rural definitions based on the article "On discrimination of rural definitions". It points out that the difficulties in defining the rurality lie in the spatial dynamics of elements' flows, the unconformity of the rural space system, the relativity of the rural concept itself, and the new era background with rural vitalization strategy and urban-rural integration as the policy orientation behind the three characteristics. Finally, this paper prospects the future development of rural geography in China, and summarizes the importance of the analysis of rural definitions to the development of rural geography.

Key words: rural areas, rurality, rural geography, rural definition, rural development