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New research concludes that robust cultural regions impeded the pace of urbanization in Britain.


Major migration routes, differentiated by cultural province of origin. England and Wales 1851–1911. Source: Author analysis based on data from UK Data Service SN 7481 (Schürer, 2019).

Research has revealed that regional cultural boundaries in England and Wales impeded the rapid urbanization that prevailed across Britain in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The study, which was led by the University of Bristol and published today in Plus oneanalyzed the migration trajectories of the entire population between 1851 and 1911 and found that the cultural regions of England and Wales proved incredibly stable over time, but that the existence of these “borders” limited the number of immigrants crossing them.

Lead author Dr Jo Day, Lecturer in Historical Geography and Economic History, said: “The degree of similarity between the geography of human interactions today and in the past is striking. Migration patterns show remarkable stability over time, and illustrate areas most people will identify with England and Wales.

For example, Yorkshire is identified as an independent ‘cultural domain’, while Devon and Cornwall similarly represent a distinct ‘south west’ character.

By building on previously generated datasets, Dr. Day and his team were able to analyze the distance relayed between a person’s place of birth and where they lived on census night.

This data was used to develop several insightful migration network maps, showing that migration patterns remained highly consistent over the 60 years in the study.

Dr Day added: “This research reveals that borders between cultural regions acted like barriers, and far fewer migrants crossed these borders than we would have expected if they weren’t there.”

“This has resulted in the fact that while the pace of urbanization in Britain has not been as fast before or since, it has nonetheless been slowed by individuals’ sense of identity and unwillingness to migrate across cultural boundaries.”

more information:
Joseph Day et al., Mapping cultural divisions in England and Wales: Did geographies of ‘belonging’ act as a brake on British urbanization, 1851–1911?, Plus one (2023). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0286244

Provided by the University of Bristol

the quoteStrong cultural regions slowed down urbanization in Britain, new research finds (2023, 26 May) Retrieved 26 May 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-strong-cultural-regions-britain-urbanization.html

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