|dc.description.abstract||This thesis examines how rurality, poverty and the shared notion of rural poverty are discursively constructed in contemporary New Zealand. To do this, an investigation of the different ways in which these concepts are discussed in professional, media and lived discourse is undertaken.
In an attempt to move beyond the sole use of statistical approaches to examine rural poverty adopted in past research, this thesis draws on a selection of key ideas from postmodernism, poststructuralism and 'Thirdspace'. These lay the foundations for a theoretical framework which encompasses marginalised and excluded experiences, multiple views and attention to language and culture while also combining both traditional and contemporary empirical research practices. Using a mixed method approach involving a structured discourse analysis (media) and an examination of professional and lived discourse, I find that there are competing constructions of rural poverty in New Zealand.
In professional discourse, rurality is constructed around the broad economic, demographic and institutional characteristics of rural areas. Poverty is constructed as a less diverse phenomenon, based primarily on the contrasting notions of income deprivation and social injustice. I also note the considerable absence of New Zealand research focusing specifically on poverty in rural areas.
Utilising a critical discourse analysis of the magazine North & South, I find that in this example of media discourse rurality incorporates the cultural, environmental, historical and social contexts of rural areas. I also discover that North & South has devoted little attention to the issue of rural poverty in New Zealand. In the articles analysed, it is often naturalised or rendered acceptable in an otherwise idyllic rural environment. Further contributing to this hidden existence, I find that the brief discussions of poverty are situated primarily within the context of urban New Zealand.
I then turn to explore how rural poverty is constructed within lived discourse. This analysis uses information gained from a questionnaire survey and focused interviews with residents of Bruce Ward, South Otago. I discover that respondents construct rurality as a diverse phenomenon based on seven elements which largely reflect those found in media and professional discourse. In contrast, despite the notable absence of reports on rural poverty in other forms of discourse analysed, a significant number of respondents feel that rural poverty exists. I also explore how individuals defined by professional discourse as 'poor' respond to the understandings of rural poverty in media and professional discourse. I find that this objective definition frequently competes with the subjective experiences of individuals.
Reflecting upon these findings I argue that the analytical framework developed in this thesis shows how theoretical ideas in social science can be practically utilised to gain a deeper understanding of the degree of overlap and competition amongst discursive constructions of rural poverty in contemporary New Zealand. It thus provides exploratory research from which future studies investigating rural poverty could gain considerable insight.||en_NZ