Brock University

Dynamics of Change in Rural Labour Markets and Communities: Competing Industries, Mobility and Cultural Change

These sessions focus on the creation of better sociological understandings of the dynamics of change and continuity in rural labour markets and the communities involved in the labour supply. Papers will be considered which focus on the ways in which labour is being sourced through new patterns of temporary and permanent migration, issues associated with lower levels of training and education opportunities of Canadas rural population, the dilemmas facing potential workers and communities in areas where jobs are in short supply including the problems of investing in skills training in the face of economies with boom and bust cycles; gender and ethnic equity issues; and local/global conflicts over labour sourcing.

Session Organizer: Jennifer Jarman, Lakehead University,


Is Culture Enough? Assessing the tangible and intangible benefits of tourism around Labrador’s Battle Harbour Historic District

Howard Ramos, Dalhousie University, , Mark Stoddart, Memorial University of Newfoundland, , David Chafe, Memorial University of Newfoundland,

Literature on rural tourism critically questions the commodification of culture and landscapes, showing that replacing rural resource based industries with tourism often leads to a mummification of culture and questionable economic payoffs. Using new survey and qualitative data from three communities in surrounding the Battle Harbour Historic District in Labrador, this paper explores how rural communities view the benefits of tourism and interactions with tourists. The paper finds that people living in the communities value the cultural showcasing of their communities and history but are ambiguous of the economic rewards of tourism. We conclude by questioning whether the intangible cultural rewards of tourism, around meaning making, outweigh the tangible rewards around promoting economically and socially viable communities.


When petro-capitalism comes knocking: Rural resilience and the Gros Morne fracking controversy

Jillian Smith, Memorial University of Newfoundland,

The modern world’s appetite for fossil fuels remains insatiable. With the depletion of conventional oil and natural gas sources, the world is, with increasing frequency, turning to unconventional resource extraction processes. This includes the high-energy pursuit of what John Urry terms “tough oil,” with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, being a prominent example of this. Situated within a sociology of petro-capitalism framework, I explore how environmental dimensions of fracking near Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park are understood from the perspectives of local community members depending upon their own environmental ethics. By studying proposed fracking projects in communities such as Sally’s Cove, we can better understand how rural communities negotiate the relationship between petro-capitalism and democracy. Faced with the question of whether to accept the risks and benefits that fracking projects entail, the Sally’s Cove controversy raises questions as to what environmental justice means for rural communities of Newfoundland. Further, the controversy also provides insight into rural resilience, the dynamics of urban privilege, and how these privileges are expressed and manifested in rural communities that are at the fringes of global flows of capital and oil. Understanding how petro-capitalism is navigated in rural communities is theoretically valuable, as knowledge of the nuances and dynamics of the local controversy illuminates global petro-capitalist flows.


Where have all the truckers gone? Rurality, agriculture, and the changing PEI trucking industry.

Natasha Hanson, University of Prince Edward Island,

This paper explores the historical connections between rural communities and the trucking industry, within Canada and specifically Prince Edward Island. There have long been connections between trucking and agriculture in particular, such as the transportation of agricultural goods, as well as labour market connections. Agricultural workers in particular, having familiarity with heavy equipment and trucks, have historically transitioned to truck drivers when looking for alternative work. This group of workers has diminished over time, with changes to Canadian agriculture and the economy. The trucking industry is also experiencing a labour shortage. This paper examines these linkages and how changes to rural labour markets and the trucking industry have impacted this labour shortage. Part of the changes to rural labour markets explored is the trend towards interprovincial migration or commuter migration. The specifics of the PEI trucking industry are detailed using interview data collected from truck drivers and company representatives.


Synthetic Effects of the Structuring of Rural Labor Markets in the Pearl River Delta, China

Junrong Du, Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia,

With the dramatic driving force of institutional change and regional development in the last three decades, labor markets in the PRD region have changed significantly. Labor markets for labor migrants in the PRD region differ in terms of the disparity of regional development. In this research, various social mechanisms that affect labor markets of labor migrants will be examined. By comparing the different structuring of labor markets in the core and peripheral regions, I explore how regional disparity results in diverse rural labor markets in the PRD.

I found that the structuring of local labor markets follows different patterns. A synthetic analysis on rural labor markets in the PRD region has been examined. The transformation of labor markets in the PRD region in the last 30 years will be reviewed to illustrate that the evolutions of local labor markets are based not only on regional economic growth, but also on institutional change and cultural legacies in historical development. By introducing various economic and social elements into the regression models, the different structuring of local labor markets on the basis of regional disparity will be compared to reveal the significant associations between local labor markets and labor migration in the region.


© Canadian Sociological Association ⁄ La Société canadienne de sociologie