The division of 'rural' and 'urban' is one of the oldest ideas in Geography and is deeply engrained in our culture. Throughout history, the rural has been attributed with many meanings: as a source of food and energy; as a pristine wilderness, or as a bucolic idyll; as a playground, or a place of escape; as a fragile space of nature, in need of protection; and as a primitive place, in need of modernization. But is the idea of the rural still relevant today? Rural provides an advanced introduction to the study of rural places and processes in Geography and related disciplines. Drawing extensively on the latest research in rural geography, this book explores the diverse meanings that have been attached to the rural, examines how ideas of the rural have been produced and reproduced, and investigates the influence of different ideas in shaping the social and economic structure of rural localities and the everyday lives of people who live, work or play in rural areas. This authoritative book contains case studies drawn from both the developed and developing world to introduce and illustrate conceptual ideas and approaches, as well as suggested further reading. Written in an engaging and lively style, Rural challenges the reader to think differently about the rural.