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Preliminary fieldwork in Albania

11 January 2023

In October 2022, the RuWell team of researchers including Dr. Antje Jantsch and Dr. Arjola Arapi-Gjini engaged in fieldwork in rural Albania. The aim was to pretest existing guidelines for the upcoming qualitative research, an essential part of the RuWell project 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 three research sites in the counties of Korcë, Berat, and Tirana, where they talked with farmers and people from different socio-demographic backgrounds residing in rural areas. Initial observations highlight the importance of socio-cultural factors as predictors of place attachment with age, gender, education, economic situation, family and community ties. Existing 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 better suited to capture impacts.

Preliminary fieldwork also points to a potential overlapping between place attachment and well-being predictors, raising the question of a latent mediating role of place attachment on well-being that needs to be explored further. 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 guideline for the qualitative research expected to start in March 2023.