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Micro-businesses and social inclusion in rural households: a comparative analysis

Oughton, Elizabeth and Wheelock, Jane and Baines, Susan (2014) Micro-businesses and social inclusion in rural households: a comparative analysis. Sociologia ruralis, 43 (4). pp. 331-348. ISSN 1467-9523

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Abstract

In this paper we bring together arguments developed from three conceptual frameworks: the embeddedness of household economic behaviour; the processes of social inclusion and exclusion; and ideas of choice and well-being. Our study is based on a comparative analysis of self-employed micro-business households in two rural locations: the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway and Northumberland in northern England. It explores the ways in which micro-businesses may limit social exclusion and promote rural development. Household behaviour and decision making are compared in different policy contexts and different micro contexts inside the household itself. We demonstrate that the role that business activity plays in combating social exclusion is by no means straight forward. Choices by households and the individuals within households play a key role in determining perceptions of well-being. We demonstrate that well-being is made up through decisions made across a range of different spheres of inclusion such as family, community, gender and paid and unpaid work roles. The findings have implications for the formulation of rural development policies.

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