Rural Elites; the Causes of Migration and Attracting their Participation in the Process of Rural Development with Thematic Analysis Approach (Case Study: Kurdistan Province)

Document Type : Original Article


1 University of Kurdistan, Iran

2 University of Jiroft, Iran.

3 University of Kurdistan, Iran.


Purpose- Rural elites, as the most important human capitals of rural communities, are a distinct and progressive stratum in various dimensions of development, and their persistence in villages can be effective in accelerating the process of rural development. Nonetheless, studies show that due to various reasons, elites are less persistent in villages and often migrate to cities. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to analyze the causes of elites' migration and how to attract the elites’ participation in the process of rural development in Kurdistan province.
Design/Method/Approach- This study was conducted in the framework of interpretative-constructive paradigm and the research method is thematic analysis. In-depth individual semi-structured interviews were employed to collect data.
Findings- The results showed two overarching themes namely rural repulsion (including six organizing themes: family and social determinism, weak infrastructure, geographical isolation, environmental challenges, weak economic conditions and weak local and regional management) and urban attraction (including four organizing themes: personal improvement, economic opportunities, social opportunities, and the use of infrastructures and facilities) are the most important causes of rural elites’ migration. Furthermore, the findings revealed that the elites’ participation in rural development could be possible through three overarching themes namely empowering villagers (including four organizing themes: capacity assessment, skill training, strengthening vitality, raising the level of villagers' demands), developing employment and entrepreneurship (including two organizing themes: promoting innovation and economic investment) and efficient rural management (including two organizing themes: managing social challenges and occupying managerial positions).
Originality/value- The rural elites’ migration is accompanied by many negative consequences for rural communities. Nevertheless, there is a gap in studies regarding its causes and especially how to attract their participation in the process of rural development. The present study can be a basis for future researches in this field.


Main Subjects

  1. Abedi Jafari, H., Taslimi, M.S., Faghihi, A., & Shekhzadeh, M. (2012). Thematic analysis and thematic networks: a simple and efficient method for exploring patterns embedded in qualitative data municipalities). Strategic Management Thought, 5(2), 151-198. [In Persian].
  2. Abrishami, H., Barkhordari, S., & Ghobashi, A. G. (2018). Investing of dynamic effect of immigration from rural to urban on income inequality: case study of rural regions in Iran. Journal of Econometric Modelling, 3(3), 39-62. [In Persian].
  3. Ahmadi, S., & Tavakoli, M. (2016). Emigration and its effects on agricultural structure (case study: the central sector of Sardasht Township). Human Geography Research, 48(4), 645-659. [In Persian].
  4. Basiti, S., & Gharba, S. (2021). The situation of young immigrants from Forat village to Damghan city. Population Journal, 27(113 & 114), 191-214. [In Persian].
  5. Bernzen, A., Craig Jenkins, J., & Braun, B. (2019). Climate change-induced migration in coastal Bangladesh? a critical assessment of migration drivers in rural households under economic and environmental stress. Geosciences, 9(1), 51. https://doi:10.3390/geosciences9010051.
  6. Bon, M., Doupona, M., Wilson-Gahan, S., Capranica, L., & Guidotti, F. (2022), Transnational migration and dual career of Slovenian and Swiss elite female handball players—a longitudinal analysis. Sports, 10(9), 137.
  7. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101.
  8. Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research (4th Edition), Publisher: Pearson, New York.,5&as_vis=1&q=Creswell,+JW+(2012),+Educational+Research.
  9. General Population and Housing Census. (2015). Culture of Settlements of Kurdistan Province, Deputy of Statistics and Information of Kurdistan Management and Planning Organization, Sanandaj. [In Persian].
  10. Hofstede, H., Salemink, K., & Haartsen, T. (2022). The appreciation of rural areas and their contribution to young adults’ staying expectations. Journal of Rural Studies, 95, 148–159.
  11. Irandoost, K., & Soleimani, H. (2020). Spatial analysis of educational indicators in Iran and identification of its key variables. Journal of Educational Planning Studies, 8(16), 56-81. [In Persian].
  12. Irandoost, K., Bochani, M.H., & Tavalaii, R. (2013). Analyzing the transformation of the country's internal migration pattern with an emphasis on urban migrations, Motaleate Shahri, 2(6), 105-118. [In Persian].
  13. Ismaili, , Azizi, F., & Khodadad, M. (2022). Migration on economic developments in the rural areas of Tehran Peripheral. Space Economy & Rural Development, 11(40), 51-72. [In Persian].
  14. Jamini, D., Irandoost, K., & Jamshidi, A. (2021). Spatial analysis of human development index and Identify its determinants in Iran. Regional Planning, 11(43), 16-31. [In Persian].
  15. Jamini, D., Jamshidi, A., & Abdolmaleki, M. (2022). Identify the challenges of informal settlements and Provide operational-executive solutions to improve it in Kurdistan province (Case study: Urban Separated Area of Naysar), Journal of Research and Urban Planning, 12(47), 111-130. [In Persian]. https://doi:10.30495/jupm.2021.27932.3875.
  16. Kaag, M., Baltissen, G., Steel, G., & Lodder, A. (2019). Migration, youth, and land in West Africa: making the connections work for inclusive development. Land, 8(4), 60. https://doi:10.3390/land8040060.
  17. Kan, K. (2019). Accumulation without dispossession? Land commodification and rent extraction in peri-urban China. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 14682427, 4, 633-648. https://doi:10.1111/1468-2427.12746.
  18. Karimi, E. (2012). Causes and solutions of the phenomenon of elite migration, "Tabnak" information base, news code: 206524, publication date: December 7, 2010 - 11:31. [In Persian]. Available at: ir/000rj2.
  19. King, N., & Horrocks, C. (2010). Interviews in Qualitative Research. London, Sage publication.
  20. Li, Y., Fan, P., & Liu, Y. (2019). What makes better village development in traditional agricultural areas of China? Evidence from long-term observation of typical villages. Habitat International, 83, 111-124.
  21. Mohammadpur, A. (2013). Qualitative Research Method Counter Method 1, Second Edition, Jameshenasan Publications, Tehran. [In Persian].
  22. Nazari, A., & Adeli, J. (2014). Spatial-local analysis of mobility and persistence of college graduates in the dynamics of rural higher education system. Case study: Payam-e-Noor University Centers, Payam-e-Noor Centers in the East. Geographical Planning of Space, 4(12), 123-148. [In Persian].
  23. Paping, R., & Pawlowski, J. (2018). Success or failure in the city? Social mobility and rural-urban migration in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Groningen, the Netherlands. Historical Life Course Studies, 6, 69-94.
  24. Paytakhti Oskooe, S. A., & Tabaghchi Akbari, L. (2015). The relationship between the literacy rate and emigration in Iran. Sociological studies, 8(26), 73-83. [In Persian].
  25. Rai, P. (2018). The labor of social change: Seasonal labor migration and social change in rural western India. Geoforum, 92, 171–180.
  26. Riahi, V., & Jamini, D. (2018). A study on the villagers’ semantic understanding of functional challenges in rural settlements (Case study: Centeral District of Ravansar County). Journal of Research & Rural Planning, 7(2), 1-23.
  27. Ridjal, T., Ridjal, J.A., Susilo, S., Muafiqie, H., & Indriati, E. (2021). Education and local elite authority: the study of traditional local elite strategies in maintaining authority of muslim communities in rural Java. Journal of Education and Practice, 12(2), 65-66. https://doi:10.7176/JEP/12-2-09
  28. Rostamalizadeh, (2019). The role of migrant elites in rural development. Quarterly Journal of Socio - Cultural Development Studies, 7(3), 61-88. [In Persian].
  29. Ruan, J., & Wang, P. (2022). Elite capture and corruption: the influence of elite collusion on village elections and rural land development in China. The China Quarterly, 253, 107-122. https://doi:10.1017/S0305741022001217.
  30. Sasanfar, A., Hemmati, A., & Mohammadi, H. (2021). Geopolitical study and analysis of the effects of the migration crisis (internal and external) on the geo-economics balance of Iran's geographical regions. Geography (Regional Planning), 11(42), 309-342. [In Persian].
  31. Sheely, R. (2015). Mobilization, participatory planning institutions, and elite capture: evidence from a field experiment in rural Kenya. World Development, 67, 251–266.
  32. Søholt, S., Stenbacka, S., & Nørgaard, H. (2018). Conditioned receptiveness: Nordic rural elite perceptions of immigrant contributions to local resilience. Journal of Rural Studies, 64, 220–229.
  33. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  34. Taherkhani, (2002). Recognition of effective factors on rural youth migration (RYM) with emphasis on rural youth migration of Qazvin province. The Journal of Spatial Planning, 6(2), 41-61. [In Persian].
  35. Vazzana, C.M., & Rudi-Polloshka, J. (2019). Appalachia has got talent, but why does it flow away? A study on the determinants of brain drain from rural USA. Economic Development Quarterly, 33(3), 220-233.
  36. Xu, C., & Wang, X. (2022). Air pollution and migration intention: evidence from the unified national graduate entrance examination. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19, 8813.
  37. Young Journalists Club. (2022). Elite immigration; irreparable damage to the scientific capital of the country, news code: 8081397. [In Persian]. Available at:
  38. Yuan, X., & Li, J. (2018). Study on the Paths and Ways of New Village Elites’ Participating in Rural Community Governance in the New Era. In 3rd International Conference on Judicial, Administrative and Humanitarian Problems of State Structures and Economic Subjects (JAHP 2018). 577-581. Atlantis Press.
  39. Zhang, Y., Long, H., Ma, L., Tu, S., Li, Y., & Ge, D. (2022). Analysis of rural economic restructuring driven by e-commerce based on the space of flows: The case of Xiaying village in central China. Journal of Rural Studies, 93, 196–209.