A spatial justice perspective on EU rural sustainability as territorial cohesion

Marie Mahon*, Michael Woods, Maura Farrell, Rhys Jones, Bryonny Goodwin‐Hawkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Territorial cohesion is a guiding set of EU principles to achieve sustainable development. However, evidence suggests that within and across rural and peripheral regions in particular, prosperity and social and economic wellbeing continue to lag behind other regions. The aim of this article is to examine how a spatial justice perspective can provide new development insights on rural sustainability. Introducing a spatial justice perspective to a sustainability/territorial cohesion view of rural development, this article explores the scope for alternative framings of rural sustainability based on more place-based, context-specific socio-spatial relations and processes. Drawing on interviews with EU-based stakeholders mainly representing rural-based NGOs, it identifies changing values and priorities about rural sustainability linked to notions of spatial justice and fairness. The findings illustrate an evolving local-level emphasis on rural sustainability as a phenomenon less focused on economic growth and as much on achieving social equity, with associated capacity to frame and agree locally relevant sustainability goals in an inclusive and respectful way.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-702
Number of pages20
JournalSociologia Ruralis
Issue number3
Early online date15 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2023


  • sustainability
  • rural
  • spatial justice
  • territorial cohesion
  • development


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