Concepts are the basic building blocks of all knowledge, while the strength of any societal project is dependent on the quality of those concepts. As two of the oldest geographical concepts still in widespread use, ‘rural/urban’ stand in stark contrast to the immense changes encountered by the society over the last century, let alone decades. To better understand this controversy, this paper moves away from conventional rural and urban theory, and instead focuses on the philosophical constitution of this conceptual pair. By critically evaluating six of the most common conceptions of ‘rural/urban’, including their pros and cons, this paper makes a case for reconfiguring our relationship with familiar understandings of societal organization. The paper concludes that by paying greater attention to how concepts operate at a cognitive level, how they are construed and collectively maintained, can help facilitate decisions whether ‘rural/urban’ are truly analytically contributory to a specific line of thought or action, or whether they merely linger as a cultural ostinato that is too elusive to be conquered or held.
Mirek Dymitrow [email@example.com], University of Gothenburg School of Business, Economics and Law Department of Economy and Society – Unit for Human Geography Viktoriagatan 13, 411 25 Gothenburg: Sweden