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RuWell team on fieldwork in Albania and Kosovo

20 January 2023 - In October 2022, the RuWell team of researchers around Dr. Antje Jantsch and Dr. Arjola Arapi-Gjini engaged in fieldwork in rural Albania and Kosovo. The aim was to pretest existing interview guidelines for the upcoming qualitative research, an essential part of the RuWell project.

The RuWell project is investigating the role of place attachment on rural people’s (im)mobility decisions and the effects of such decisions on their well-being. The researchers visited research sites in Albania in the counties of Korcë, Berat and Tirana, and in Kosovo in Podujevë. Here they talked with farmers and people residing in rural areas from different socio-demographic backgrounds. Initial observations highlight the importance of socio-cultural factors as predictors of place attachment with age, gender, education, economic situation, family and community ties. Investments such as homes and businesses also seem to play a significant role in developing and maintaining links to a specific location. Furthermore, the role of the natural environment on place attachment and migration decisions seems less clear, prompting the need to devise a new set of questions suited to capture impacts.

Preliminary fieldwork also points to a potential overlapping between place attachment and well-being predictors. This raises the question of exactly what role the concept of place attachment plays in well-being. Last but not least, there seems to be some evidence the nature of the attachment to one place, that is, whether people are ‘forced to stay’ – i.e., due to family obligations such as taking care of elderly parents) –, or wish to stay, because a place is particularly attractive to them, might have adverse consequences for their well-being.

These preliminary observations will be carefully integrated into the development of a final interview guideline for the qualitative research expected to start in March 2023.