The significance of quality of life and sustainability at the urban–rural fringe in the making of place-based community
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Understandings of community in urban–rural fringe locations in Ireland are explored in this paper. As a specific space at the interface between the urban and the rural the fringe incorporates processes of rapid physical, social, and demographic change. These give rise to a range of complex and often competing dynamics, that impact on people and place in a variety of ways. Among the main preoccupations and concerns in these rapidly evolving fringe locations are those relating to what can broadly be described as ‘quality of life’. How this concept is understood across different groups situated within the spatial setting of the fringe, and how it influences the development of a sustainable community there, are central to this discussion. Drawing on household interviews from four case-study locations surrounding Galway City, Ireland, this paper examines how quality of life is experienced across a range of social and spatial dimensions that relate to these locations, and the extent to which they provide a common set of interests around which community may be built. From a wider knowledge perspective, it contributes to debates about how the concept of community provides explanatory power regarding the way in which individuals are associated with one another on the basis of a set of shared interests or concerns within a particular spatial setting.