Manifestations and patterns of village abandonment in mountains of China from a dynamic perspective

Abstract

Village abandonment is occurring on a large scale in China and is remarkably restructuring rural landscapes in response to rapid industrialization and urbanization. However, previous studies have neglected the important phenomena prevalent in China and other developing countries due to a lack of dynamic perspectives. This study examines the manifestations and drivers of village abandonment based on a case study in Shouning County, Southeast China from a dynamic perspective. Qualitative research methodology was used, comprised of field investigation and semi-structured interviews in six sampling hamlets. A conceptual framework of village abandonment was presented to depict the process of village abandonment. Results demonstrated that village abandonment should be considered a multi-stage process. By dividing the overall process into three stages, the study identified three patterns of village abandonment which had different manifestations and drivers. Along with the process of village abandonment, primary manifestations have evolved from population decline, ageing, and farmland extensification to completely abandoned communities, while drivers of village abandonment have shifted from traditional ‘pull–push’ factors to final ageing and degeneration. Manifestations and drivers of village abandonment were distinct for different patterns of village abandonment. In a word, the dynamic perspective has been highlighted in the study to consider village abandonment as a multi-stage process. Additionally, several policy implications have been put forward to promote rural poverty alleviation and rural sustainability in China.

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Funding

The study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41371527).

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Correspondence to Chengchao Wang.

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Wang, C., Wang, Y., Gao, B. et al. Manifestations and patterns of village abandonment in mountains of China from a dynamic perspective. GeoJournal 86, 93–108 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10708-019-10062-w

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Keywords

  • Village abandonment
  • Abandoned hamlet
  • Rural depopulation
  • Farmland abandonment
  • Process
  • Settlement abandonment