How third places shape community cohesion and economic development in rural areas: the case of pubs in UK and Ireland

9 March 2017
Versione stampabile

2 PM, Seminar Room, Department of Economics and Management

Speaker: Ignazio Cabras, Northumbria University

Abstract

The study presented in this seminar, based on primary research, explores and examines the significance of third places in rural areas of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The author focuses on pubs, which represent an important locus for regional development and rejuvenation particularly in rural areas, where they act as hubs for social aggregation and economic activity. Generally, pubs in village and rural hamlets are regarded as complementarities to other local services and amenities that exist within the area, such as sporting events, volunteering and charity initiatives, as well as business activities. The evidence presented in this seminar provides empirical support for this proposition by estimating the impact of pubs on social and communal activities at a local level. More specifically, data and information about facilities and services available for rural parishes are used to elaborate a set of index measurements of community cohesion. The indexes, created upon a range of discrete variables capturing multiple aspects of community living, are then investigated by using different econometric and statistical techniques to measure the role of pubs in shaping the levels of community cohesion in the countryside. In addition, the impact of pubs purchasing and their potential in terms of employment and local businesses is investigated by analysing data gathered from a survey questionnaire conducted among publicans. Finally, the author presents and discusses views and insights captured from focus groups conducted with local residents.
Findings gathered from the analysis identify a strong positive relationship between the presence of pubs and higher levels of community cohesion index occurring within the examined parishes, indicating that this relationship is maintained in time. Results are discussed in the light of the significant decline in the number of pubs occurred in the areas analysed, and more generally in UK and Ireland, in the last three decades, and explored with regard to possible policies and initiatives which could help preserving the positive impact these business have on rural communities.