Why place matters: A rurally-orientated analysis of COVID-19's differential impacts

Christina Malatzky, Judy Gillespie, Danielle Couch, Catherine Cosgrave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper considers the implications of COVID-19 during the early stages – or ‘first wave’ – of the 2020 pandemic in relation to the enduring urban/rural dichotomy within high-income economies. Drawing on popular media/news stories and political discourse that emerged during this time, we examine how dominant constructions of dichotomised places (urban/rural) have been transformed in ways that highlight how rural places are positioned in contestations over resources and control of spaces. This examination is contextualised within an understanding of the enduring healthcare maldistribution between urban and rural places in geographically large and sparsely populated high-income countries, which renders many rural locales decidedly vulnerable when it comes to the testing/diagnosis, treatment and management of COVID-19. We argue that scholars engaged in place-sensitive research have a critical role to play in working with and empowering rural communities to increase broader public and political understanding of precisely why place matters during public health crises.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100063
Number of pages5
JournalSocial Sciences & Humanities Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Urban/rural dichotomy
  • rural health
  • health inequities
  • place meaning
  • place-sensitive

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