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《Acta Geographica Sinica》 1998-04
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ON DISCRIMINATION OF RURAL DEFINITIONS

Zhang Xiaolin (Department of Geography, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210097)  
Rural Geography is a weak branch of Human Geography in China, especially with regard to its theoretical development and some basic concepts. First of all, this paper analyses rural definitions systematically from a multi dimention point of view (occupational、ecological、socio cultural). As an occupational definition, “rural” means an area where farming is the main mode of production. As far as ecological definitions are concerned, it means a settlement whose population scale is smaller, outside urban area, with rural landscapes showing unmistakable signs of being dominated by extensive use of land, and with discrete spatial units isolated from the outside world. Socio cultural definitions are in terms of clear differences in behavior and attitude between people in rural and urban area, such as ways of life, spatial behavior and aspirations. The author thinks that all the definitions are lack of delimitations of rural totally and essentially. Rural can not be summarized by a simple definition, because it is a complicated and indistinct conception. Difficulties of defining rural lie in dynamic evolution of the whole rural, unconformity among rural elements, relativity between rural and urban, and relevant rural urban continuum, which makes the boundary between rural and urban more indefinite. To a certain extent rural is regarded as areas differing from urban greatly and the difference can be compared in many aspects such as production activities, ways of life, etc. The close extent between urban and rural represents different stages of rural development. The author suggests rurality should take place of rural definitions under the background of urbanization in the world of today. Rurality refers to the manifestation of rural characters which take urban as criteria of reference within a specified area. The author draws his conclusions. First, every region can be looked on as a unity of urbanity and rurality. The more urbanity a region is, the less rurality it will have. Urban and rural are continuous and there is not any broken locality between them. Second, the size of rurality index takes urban as unit of reference. Using different urban criteria can reflect difference of rurality and stages of its development. Finally, rurality is concerned with scale, index and method which are used in our research. We can weaken some rural characteristics and improve regional urbanity in practice such as village town planning and regional planning by estimating rurality index of different areas. In order to be favourable to urban rural planning and management we also need to put forward rural countermeasures concerned correctly.
【Fund】: 国家自然科学基金
【CateGory Index】: K901
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