The covid-19 pandemic as a catalyst for transformation in rural areas in Austria and Thailand: A comparative analysis

Supervisors: Michaela Trippl in collaboration with Patrick Sakdapolrak (boteh Department of Geography and Regional Research)

Funding Situation: potentially via a VISESS PhD fellowship

Project outline: The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected economic and social development in regions across the world – often acerbating existing multiple crises (i.e. climate change) people and institutions in these regions are exposed to already. Anecdotal evidence shows that the ability to cope with and adapt to the enfolding crisis varies widely. Drawing on recent advances in research on resilience, innovation and transition studies, the overall aim of this PhD project is to explore both conceptually and empirically to what extent and in which ways the Corona crisis with its manifold and socially as well as spatially uneven impacts becomes a catalyst for social and economic change in rural areas. Guiding research questions include: how do actors from different domains (social groups) respond to the Corona crisis by nurturing new social and economic practices? Which of these new practices fade away in ‘post-crisis’ times, which ones survive but remain niche innovations, and which new social and economic practices can be upscaled, accelerating structural change and reorientation and leading to positive ecological, economic and social impacts? Through a comparative analysis of rural areas in Austria and Thailand, this PhD project will significantly contribute to a better understanding of the role of geographical context in shaping the resilience of rural areas and the agentic processes that underpin the emergence and diffusion of new social and economic practices.