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Reimagining the rural hinterland: an investigation of participatory digital placemaking in rural communities.

Ironside, Rachael; Reid, Peter



Rural locations often form a hinterland – geographically and culturally - for large conurbations that dominate a particular region. They are interconnected, sometimes interdependent, but also separated by the social and spatial perceptions of a place. For urban dwellers the hinterland is a place to 'escape to the country'; for rural dwellers the town is the place of 'bright lights'. The norms of either location often sit juxtaposed. This sense of place may be constructed from traditional, stereotypical ways of seeing and understanding Communities. Digital technology has provided a platform to challenge these norms and provide new ways of representing the physical and cultural landscape of urban and rural spaces. In this paper we explore digital placemaking in the hinterland of the North-East of Scotland. In this region, the city (Aberdeen) dominates, but it is the rural hinterland that charms. Through an examination of co-created content of rural spaces in this region we consider the role of participatory digital placemaking. Drawing on an extensive body of previous research that has explored community heritage in the North-East of Scotland, we use case studies to consider the ways in which images, iconography and language shape and inform perceptions of the rural space in the digital environment. We argue that this bottom-up approach to placemaking in rural areas can help to shape the way that places are seen, understood, and valued by communities, visitors and wider online audiences. To conclude, this paper reflects on how rural participatory digital placemaking counteracts the urban norm and connects communities across town and country through a Reimagined digital hinterland.


IRONSIDE, R. and REID, P. 2024. Reimagining the rural hinterland: an investigation of participatory digital placemaking in rural communities. Culture unbound [online], 16(1): place making beyond cities, pages 60-85. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 16, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 15, 2024
Publication Date Jun 30, 2024
Deposit Date Mar 25, 2024
Publicly Available Date Mar 25, 2024
Journal Culture unbound
Electronic ISSN 2000-1525
Publisher Linköping University Electronic Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 1
Pages 60-85
Keywords Rural; Hinterland; Digital placemaking; Digital heritage; North-East Scotland
Public URL
Publisher URL


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