Journal article: ‘We don’t enjoy nature like that’: Youth identity and lifestyle in the countryside. #heritagefutures

Katherine King, Andrew Church
‘We don’t enjoy nature like that’: Youth identity and lifestyle in the countryside
Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 31, July 2013, Pages 67–76
It is claimed that contact with nature and the countryside can benefit young people’s health and wellbeing. There are concerns, however, that not only do young people encounter significant barriers to accessing these resources as part of their leisure experiences, but also they generally have less direct experience of nature. Research into youth leisure activities and their associated cultural dimensions suggests performance and enactment are an integral feature of related youth lifestyles. This paper argues that young people’s engagement with nature and the countryside still remains only partly understood because past studies have not examined these interactions as part of a wider process of developing lifestyles and identities linked to youth leisure activities. Presenting the findings of primary qualitative research involving a group of young people who live in urban and rural areas and who make regular use of countryside space for mountain biking, this paper shows the ways in which young people express their relations to nature and the countryside. By providing a specific focus on young people’s countryside leisure experience within the framework of identity and lifestyle the paper offers a more holistic understanding of how young people interact with the countryside exploring both the distinctive elements of the spaces offered by the countryside to develop symbolic ownership over space and the way in which, through embodied experiences and knowledges, the nature associated with these spaces is given meaning by young people.