‘The brainy ones are leaving’: the subtlety of (un)cool places through the eyes of rural youth

Helle Dalsgaard Pedersen, Malene Gram

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this paper is to study place dynamics in relationships between academically-oriented young people and their local rural places. With point of departure in rural settings with less obvious flagship attractions and cultural assets compared to urban high amenity settings, the paper contributes to the limited literature on the perception of place among academically-oriented youth, who in future potentially belong to the professional category of knowledge workers. Addressing identity, place and the concept of cool in relation to rural youth, we analyse the findings from 23 qualitative, in-depth interviews conducted with 49 young people in secondary education in two rural regions of Denmark to identify place dynamics in the relationships between these young people and their local places. The paper adds to the youth literature by demonstrating how rural youth produce, articulate and maintain identities and visions for desired futures with aspirations for urban lifestyles. Findings show that the interviewed youth's relationships to their local rural place are characterised by conflicting feelings of attachment, detachment, pride and entrapment, and that such feelings reflect on identity construction and seem to play an important role for future migration intentions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)620-635
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2018


  • Place
  • cool
  • educational migration
  • identity
  • rural youth

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