Rural Place Marketing and Consumption-Driven Mobilities in Northern Sweden: Challenges and Opportunities for Community Sustainability

Marco Eimermann, Paul Agnidakis, Ulrika Åkerlund, Annie Woube

Abstract


Similar to other northern peripheries, remote, and sparsely populated areas (SPAs) in Sweden’s far north have been confronted with decreasing populations and economic stagnation, forcing local governments to more actively engage in strategies for attracting and retaining populations. This exploratory community case study considers rural place-marketing efforts in the municipalities of Åsele and Storuman, with a particular focus on understanding differing local strategies for attracting consumption-driven movers to “amenity-poor” and “amenity-rich” areas. The case study examines two research questions: what target groups do these municipalities envisage as desired new populations; and to what extent, and how, do they engage in rural place-marketing efforts? Our study reveals that the municipal officials’ views on rural place-marketing strategies differ considerably, as Åsele participates in Europe’s largest emigration expo while Storuman draws on its increasing tourism development to attract seasonal residents and returning young adults in the family-building stage of the life course. The findings further illustrate how production and performance aspects of mobility are essential when studying the socio-economic sustainability of everyday life in sparsely populated northern Swedish municipalities at different geographical places and levels.


Keywords: consumption-driven mobilities, performance, production, rural place marketing, Northern Sweden

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