PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2018, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (5): 591-600.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2018.05.003

• Theoretical Analysis • Previous Articles     Next Articles

On the analysis of rural space

Hongbo LI1,2(), Xiaoliang HU1, Xiaolin ZHANG1,2,*(), Zhi LI1, Yuan YUAN1   

  1. 1. School of Geography Science, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing 210023, China
  • Received:2017-11-01 Revised:2018-02-26 Online:2018-05-28 Published:2018-05-28
  • Contact: Xiaolin ZHANG;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41501187, No.41571164, No.51778002;Philosophical and Social Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province, No.2015SJD150


Influenced by the interaction of various internal and external factors including urbanization, informatization, and globalization, rural areas in China are experiencing socioeconomic restructuring, regional function upgrading, and a series of transformations and reconstructions. Rural areas face a range of unprecedented opportunities and challenges, and the proposal of "rural revitalization strategy" puts forward new requirements for rural development and rural geography. Therefore, a comprehensive and systematic understanding of rural space system and accurate depiction of rural space are necessary prerequisites for further studies. Existing Chinese research focused more on the material space and to some extent placed less focus on the study of social-cultural space. Using a single material space view is very difficult to understand and interpret a large number of increasingly complex rural geographical problems. Based on a systematic analysis of the thinking on rural space and development in China and abroad, this article points out the deficiency of Chinese rural geographical research about rural society and culture. This article preliminarily expounds the complexity of rural territorial system and argues that the rural space system that is derived from the rural territorial system should not be limited within the range of rural material space but be understood through the multi-dimensional perspective of space. According to the human-environment system theory, this study tried to construct a rural space system that consists of three progressive layers including material space-social space-cultural space and clarify the connotations of every layer and the logical relations between them to fully understand the increasingly complex rural area. This article also highlights the necessity that multi-dimensional rural spatial restructuring should be developed. Based on the construction of multi-dimensional rural space system, forming an overview of the historical process and realistic situation of rural spatial restructuring and predicting the future path of rural development are very important research tasks to carry out in the future. In the end, this article appeals that Chinese geographers should continue to discuss and analyze concepts of rural issues in order to constantly improve our understanding about the changing countryside, and deepen the studies of rural spatial restructuring by using the theories and methods of related subjects from the perspective of multi-dimensional space. Finally, for the comprehensive empirical research of rural geographical issues, Chinese rural geographers should strengthen micro scale studies, actively devote themselves to field study, be observant of rural daily life, and understand the rural society and culture to make up for the deficiency of Chinese rural geographical research about rural society and culture.

Key words: rural geography, rural space system, human-environment relationship, rural spatial restructuring