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Commercialising the Countryside

Research project in Human Geography

Project's title: COMMERCIALISING THE COUNTRYSIDE THROUGH LEISURE DEVELOPMENT. Economic opportunities and sustainable development

Project's duration: 2008-2012

Contact person: Erik JönssonGuy Baeten


The aim of this FORMAS-financed project was to reach a deeper understanding of the possible simultaneously social, economic, and environmental transformations rural landscapes can undergo as an ever wider range of leisure- and recreation facilities are established. Based in the growing body of research concerning neoliberalisation the project was to fill essential knowledge gaps concerning how large-scale recreation facilities contributes to an increased commercialisation of the countryside and how specific golf facilities can create social, economic, and ecological tensions locally.

As a number of researchers have commented, questions concerning tourism and leisure have otherwise been relatively neglected in studies of political economy. Earlier theorisations concerning society and economy have seldom been used as a foundation for studies of tourism, and neither has tourism been regarded as something which can illuminate broader political-economic issues (cf. Mosedale, 2012). In the research project overarching focus has therefore to a large degree been to address this gap through scrutinising two large-scale and rather high-end golf facilities (Bro Hof Slott Golf Club in Upplands-Bro and Trump International Golf Links Scotland, in Aberdeenshire). Focus has however not only been on political economy, but rather on political ecology. Thus, our emphasis has not only been on what these large golf facilities can say about economic structures in society, but also on what they can tell about environmental transformation and transformations in how environments are regarded. Golf is, as Lowerson (1994) has remarked, the most ”territorially hungry” sport, and golf facilities are therefore always intimately entwined in landscape transformation and the various power exertions needed to both reshape and control these landscapes.

  • Jönsson, E. & Baeten, G. 2014.“Because I am who I am and my mother is Scottish”: neoliberal planning and entrepreneurial instincts at Trump International Golf Links Scotland Space and Polity 18(1) 54-69
  • Jönsson, E. 2014. ‘Contested expectations: Trump International Golf Links Scotland, polarised visions, and the making of the Menie Estate landscape as resource’ Geoforum, 52, 226-235
  • Jönsson, E. 2013. ’ Exklusiva golflandskap och planeringspolitik [Exclusive golf landscapes and planning ]  Gaudeamus 89(7) 12-13, in Swedish
  • Jönsson, E. 2013. Fields of Green and Gold: Territorial hunger, rural planning, and the political ecologies of high-end golf Lund University Dissertation
  • Jönsson, E. 2009. ’Golf, golflandskap och relationen till naturen: Om Donald Trumps golfanläggning i norra Skottland’ [Golf, the golfing landscape and relation with nature: On Donald Trump’s golf resort in north Scotland] Idrottsforum No 106.