Document Type : Research Paper
Associate Prof., Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran & Member of CERP
Ph.D. Candidate, Geography and Rural Planning, University of Tehran
Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology, Tehran Islamic Azad University
Is it possible to explore for qualitative concept of "goodness" about rural settlements, to find acceptable norms and indicators? In order to answer this question, this research sought to identify the characteristics of "good village" based on rural student's perceptions. This is after understanding the common aspects of a good village and adjustment of semantic differences between rural students and experts of rural planning and development. Experts of planning and development of rural settlements such as geographers, sociologists, economists, architects and designers in their professional knowledge and practices apply concepts that might be different in comparison with popular concepts among the public. According to principle of semantic differences, we are making efforts to purify rural student perceptions about characteristics of "good village". It seems natural that there are different attitudes about a "good village" in various conditions of economic, social, historical, cultural, environmental, political, administrative, and degree of development. Literature review of this research show that until now the concept of "good village" was not as a known model in academic studies in the fields of rural planning and development. But in the context of idealized, appropriate or utopian settlements there are well-known models, such as: "Ideal Village", "Model Village ", "Healthy Village", "Sustainable Village Model (SVM)", and "Eco-village". The Ideal Village Concept is a community village with a self-sustaining income producing projects, independent electrification system generated from non-fuel based device, clean water facility for drinking including water for irrigation, quality but affordable housings, school, medical facilities for human beings and animals, proper sanitation system, information center, bank, police station, retail outlet for household and agriculture needs, phone facility, connecting roads to nearby villages,towns, and legal councilor. The model village concept aims at empowering communities to take charge of their health and take action for prevention and treatment of common diseases and health situations.A healthy village project promotes local actions by community members, mobilizing human and financial resources to build healthy environments and promote healthy behaviors. It covers topics such as water and sanitation drainage, waste management, housing quality, domestic and community hygiene, and provision of health services, providing extensive source materials for adaptation to local needs and conditions. Sustainable village is a model in which appropriate green technology and local resources are used to improve livelihoods by meeting basic needs and providing the opportunity for micro-business growth and development. The goals of Sustainable Villages are: promote economic growth; protect the environment; foster a strong community; and improve the quality of life. Eco-villages offers inspiring examples of how people and communities can live healthy, cooperative, genuinely happy and have meaningful lifestyles.
Innovative and exploratory approach of this research necessitates using of qualitative methodology. This research carried out in Karafs Village in Razan Township, Hamedan Province. Population of the research is rural students (male and female) in guidance school and high school. This was selected by total sampling method. Students asked to express their perceptions of a "good village". In other words, tell us what is a good village? For this purpose, "essay writing" is used as a technique for the method of constant comparative analysis that innovate Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss in relation to grounded theory. According to this theory the process of collecting and analyzing data encompasses three phases including open coding, axial coding, and selective coding. Afterwards, based on the result of qualitative stage a Likert questionnaire was designed with qualitative categories. Goals of this stage were access to perceptions of rural students about a "good village" related to the village they live in, namely Karefs. Finally, one-sample t-test was used for analyzing questionnaire data.
In the first stage of the research, 218 essays were obtained from students of Karafs Village. Writers of 108 essays (49.54%) were boys and 110 essays were (50.46%) girls. After three stages of data analysis including open coding, axial coding, and selective coding, 124 categories or characteristics of "good village" was identified. These characteristics in process of selective coding were classified in 18 general categories, detailed as follows: Job creation and Career Development (7 categories); Agriculture development (10 categories); Economic self-reliance (2 categories); Lifestyle (5 categories); quality of life (8 categories); Social capital (7 categories); Balanced urban-rural relations (8 categories); Lack of social problems (4 categories); Development of ICT (3 categories); Facilities and accessibility (15 categories); Modernity (9 categories); Environment (17 categories); Physical development (13 categories); Housing and architectural development (9 categories); Rural management (2 categories); Family cooperation (1 categories). Finally, result of second stage by questionnaire for assessing situation of Karafs in relation to student perceptions, show that in 3 categories including "lifestyle", "social capital" and "family cooperation" the average of answers is above median, and in all of other 15 categories thisis less than median.
New paradigm of development is concentrated on participatory and community-based approach. This emphasize on stakeholder's requests and taking advantage of their participation in overall process of planning. Accordingly, in this research, the concept of "good village" has greatly paid attention to participant perceptions about that as desirable and favorable settlements. The result of this research reflects all aspects of the rurality. For attaining to "good village" conditions in Karafs it is necessary to achieve appropriate transformations in all aspects of the categories. However, any action towards the good village requires participation of majority of local people.