The Land's All Gone to Pieces: Rural Change Through the Eyes of Older Rural Women
The Arena Society Model, developed by Persson (1992) in Sweden and later applied to a Canadian context by Fuller (1994), focuses on the evolution of settlements over time and is useful in terms of understanding some of the changes experienced by those who are now elderly and whose lives have spanned the time from 'short distance' or 'pre-industrial' through 'industrial' society to the present day 'open' or 'arena society'. Moreover, the lives of the rural elderly were embedded in a rural ideology and agrarian world view that assisted in identity formation, as well as influencing their relationship with the land. Using both the Arena Society Model and rural ideology as a framework, this paper explores the responses to rural change of eight older rural Canadian women who have lived in a particular geographical locale for generations and whose lives have spanned three distinct societies. Though the women are living in today's 'open' society, their value system and ideology is situated in short distance or industrial thinking and is no longer congruent with their present day reality. This has implications for the ways in which they articulate change, as well as the impact these changes are having on their experience of place, and on their own self concepts.
Keywords: Rural Ideology, Agrarian World View, Rural Change, Arena Society Model, Older Rural Women, Place, Identity
Jane Elizabeth Oliver