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Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1619; doi:10.3390/su9091619

Article
Amenity/Lifestyle Migration in the Chilean Andes: Understanding the Views of “The Other” and Its Effects on Integrated Community Development
David Matarrita-Cascante 1,*, Hugo Zunino 2 and Johanna Sagner-Tapia 2Orcid
1
Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA
2
Departamento de Ciencias Sociales, Núcleo de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades, Universidad de la Frontera, Temuco, Chile
*
Correspondence: Tel.: +1-979-845-8522
Academic Editor: Tan Yigitcanlar
Received: 11 August 2017 / Accepted: 8 September 2017 / Published: 12 September 2017

Abstract

:
Within the context of domestic amenity/lifestyle migration, we are interested in understanding the way local rural residents and migrants: (1) view each other; and (2) how those views affect an integrated community development. Using alterity theory as a guiding framework, we engaged in a qualitative study to examine such views and their effects along the lines of three axes: an epistemological (what people know about the other), an axiological (how people value the other), and a praxeological (how people interact with the other) one in the Chilean community of Malalcahuello. Findings suggests that, overall, both types of residents know little of the other, have and constantly reproduce negative value judgments of the other, and relate only in mundane non-significant ways. We provide explanations of how these relate to the reported diminished community development efforts in town.
Keywords:
amenity migration; lifestyle migration; community development; alterity

1. Introduction

The migration of urbanites to rural areas seeking particular natural and lifestyle-related amenities is a well-known phenomenon within academic circles by now [1,2]. The literature shows that such phenomenon considerably changes multiple dimensions of rural amenity communities, ranging from their structure and function to their identity, much of which threatens their sustainable development [1,2,3,4,5].
In this study, we focused on the social impacts of this phenomenon, as we paid attention to the affected interactions between migrants and rural residents in an amenity destination. More specifically, we focused on how “difference” is constructed when migrants and rural residents share a common space and on how such differences affect integrated community development.
The literature is clear that migrants and locals commonly present different intrinsic socioeconomic and cultural characteristics, which externalize themselves in different forms of situations that range from avert conflict to acceptance and integration [6,7,8,9,10,11,12]. However, to our knowledge, no study has deepened into the understanding of how non-intrinsic differences are constructed by these actors and, further, how they affect the community’s local development.
To better understand how differences are created, we chose the theory of alterity [13], used to describe and understand the construction of identities and differences within the encounter of groups. A departing point to understand the differences formed by groups, according to this theory, is to understand the views that each group forms of the other. Such views affect the identities of migrants and locals, oftentimes translating into power struggles for acceptance and imposition of worldviews. Altogether, such struggles set barriers for purposive interaction and social cohesion, critical requirements for local community development [14]. Accordingly, this study examines: (1) how rural residents and migrants views the “other”; and (2) how such views influence integrated community development.
We believe the goal of the study is timely given the need to move the amenity migration literature forward, a call recently made by [15]. The author notes that, beyond understanding the causes and consequences of this phenomenon and categorizing and contrasting locals and migrants, the literature needs to produce applied knowledge that help us determine ways in which the impacts associated with this phenomenon can be reduced, mitigated, or avoided. That is why our attention is placed on understanding how the views that each group has of the other, affects community development. The interest in community development stems from the critical role such process plays in the economic, social, and environmental sustainabilitity of small, remote, and economically and politically isolated rural communities [14,16]. The oftentimes-stagnant economies and limited institutional presence and support characteristic of many rural communities [17], results in the necessity to rely on bottom-up development strategies to solve local problems [14,18]. Particularly, in the context of rural communities experiencing amenity migration, locally-led development is critical to address emerging issues associated with the social disparity, inequality, and environmental degradation that are known to follow this phenomenon [4,11,19,20,21].
To achieve our goal, we studied the community of Malalcahuello, located in the Chilean Southern Andes. This small, remote rural community was chosen given its early stage of amenity development, its aggressive influx of amenity migrants, and the clearly observed differences between them and the local rural residents as noted by the research team and other recent studies [22,23].

2. Literature Review

2.1. Amenity/Lifestyle Migration: Differences between Groups

Multiple studies including exurbanization, rural renaissance, neo-ruralism, residential tourism, leisure migration, retirement migration, and, more prominently in recent times, amenity migration and lifestyle migration (our guiding studies) (we chose the amenity and lifestyle migration studies as our guiding ones given the diverse reasons that have brought migrants to the study community—encompassed within these two major notions; here, we will use these two terms interchangeably), in one way or another relate to/describe the phenomenon that we study here: the population movement of (domestic and/or transnational) urbanites to rural areas [1,2]. Setting aside the differences in academic traditions, frameworks, and research foci that these studies present, in general terms, our guiding studies describe a movement of people from urban to rural areas in search of lifestyle changes. Different from politically and economically-driven migrations (e.g., forced relocation as in the case of disasters, conflict, or economic necessity), amenity/lifestyle migration is not forced or imposed, but is a form of mobility based on freedom of choice that gives migrants the ability to seek personal transformation through projects that are aimed at generating different life conditions in relation to that life left behind [24,25]. Amenity/lifestyle migrants pursue changes in their lives by migrating to a locality with characteristics that are believed to make such changes possible [26].
This ability to pursue change has been linked to the relative economic solvency of the migrants [4,27], oftentimes associated with privilege [5,28,29]. Such condition reflects an intrinsic difference between migrants and their rural counterparts: migrants have higher levels of income than rural residents [2,10,30]. Studies have also reported that migrants grew up in larger towns, have higher levels of formal education, and own larger properties when compared with locals [6,10,30,31,32]. Transnational amenity migration studies oftentimes report ethnicity and nationality as other demographic differences between migrants and locals [5,28,29,32,33,34,35]. Another way in which amenity/lifestyle studies differentiate migrants and rural residents have focused on intrinsic cultural characteristics, externalized in the forms of attitudes and behaviors commonly associated with sociodemographic characteristics. For instance, Benson [28] and Hayes [29] reported how race and nationality, more specifically the whiteness of North American migrants living in South America, translates into racialized identities, automatically granting a status of wealth and (post-colonial) privilege. Such privilege is highly associate with power, as migrants are seen by locals as having a series of resources (e.g., wealth, knowledge, and skills) that grant migrants the ability to make choices and engage in actions that only few privileged locals can [28,33]. This stigma, on the other hand, set migrants apart due to constructed differences/identities and affects their ability to socially integrate in the community [28,29]. Other cultural differences are found in studies examining conservation attitudes and behaviors of migrants and rural residents. Studies report that amenity migrants are often pro-environmentalists in several ways (promotion of environmental education, forming pro-conservation associations, regulating growth through zoning and conservation easements [4,36,37,38,39], while rural residents are commonly “consumers” of the environment through extractive activities (e.g., farming and mining). Other cultural differences noted in the literature include levels of consumption, community participation and attachment, religious and political beliefs, and preferences towards development [32,40].
Overall, the existing literature is clear that these two groups of people are commonly very different [4,7,8,9,10,11,30]. However, to our knowledge, no study has deepened into the understanding of how such differences are constructed. That is, there is a limited understanding of how the different demographic and cultural differences shape the way residents in amenity communities view each other and, by extension, act in relation to the other. Here, we are particularly interested in how those views affect the community’s local development.

2.2. Amenity/Lifestyle Migration: Community Development

The abovementioned differences have been associated with a number of changes observed in amenity communities [2,4], as they reflect the different worldviews and choices that migrants and locals have/make [2,29,41,42]. Nonetheless, it is important to note that the literature has also indicated that such differences can be seen as a form of “capital diversification” that can positively benefit the community [42,43,44]. Indeed, migrants are capable of transforming their destination community through local-level interventions that can alter conventional social, economic, and environmental conditions. That is, migrants can bring an important economic, social, and cultural contribution to their new communities in the form of knowledge, pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors, involvement, innovation, and entrepreneurship, all of which can stimulate improvements in the community [25,44,45].
The challenge faced by many amenity communities is in getting members of both groups to work together for the common good. A line of research within the amenity/lifestyle migration has focused on this issue from a community development perspective, understood here as a process that is locally conceived and implemented in which resources are mobilized seeking the improvement of local living conditions [46]. This literature has acknowledged the existence of a population within migrants and locals that actively participates in local development efforts of amenity communities [9,10,30,35,47]. Nonetheless, commonly, the projects/programs members of each group participate in reflect diverging goals [8,36,37,38,48,49]. Further, even when common goals exist, migrants and locals frequently engage in development efforts separately, that is, only with members of their own group [32,35,47].
A limited number of studies including [11,32,35,47] have looked deeper at this lack of integration within the context of community development in amenity/lifestyle migration communities. These studies suggest that the lack of integration in development efforts results primarily from socioeconomic and cultural differences which materialize in the forms of different languages, worldviews, behaviors, and homophily [32,35,47]. Competition over local resources and the subsequent conflict that emerges, has also been noted as a reason for failed integration in local development efforts: migrants’ businesses or activities that directly or indirectly compete with the livelihood of locals, results in the erection of barriers between groups, affecting integrated development [15,47].
While these studies shed a light on the reasons for the lack of integrated local development, no study has deepened into our understanding of the processes underlying the construction of differences—which we explore here by examining the views that each group has of the other. We are particularly interested in how such views affect the community’s local development in rural communities undergoing amenity/lifestyle migration processes. In such communities, both the incoming and receiving population are placed in a situation where they (re)define who they are, how to act, and how to relate to the other. Thus, our study explores how locals and migrants construct differences and the effects this has on community development.
While the amenity/lifestyle literature differentiates a priori the migrants from the locals (as noted earlier based on socioeconomic and cultural differences), in our study, we offer an account of how people construct the other, opening the way to consider more rigorously the creation of barriers to an integrated local development. Through our analysis, we recognize differences within migrants and locals and the complexities of the process through which social integration is constructed among different groups. To achieve this, we guide our analysis through alterity theory.

3. Framework for Analysis: Alterity Theory

Alterity theory has been used to describe and understand the encounter of groups as in the case of the Spaniards and indigenous groups of Central America [13] and western democracies and Islam [50]. According to alterity theory, the encounter of an individual or a specific group with another (i.e., “the other”) leads to an alterity relation. Such relation reflects two important realizations: the other is separated from me and therefore is not me; and, secondly, the other is different than me [51]. These two realizations, however obvious they may be, entail a dichotomized understanding and interpretation of the social reality of the other, affecting the interaction that exists between groups. As a result of those realizations, tensions within and between groups emerge as people perceive and interpret the other and his/her differences [52]. Thus, the problematic of the alterity relation lies on the representations and construction of the other, oftentimes depicted as the enemy [53], as an unknown and unfamiliar other [50,54] as a barbaric other [50] or as an exotic savage [13].
To explain how those representations are formed, Todorv’s theory on alterity explores how the relation with the other is constructed from the moment they share a common space. The tension between the individuality that defines each other’s differences will be stressed by their life in common [55]. This scenario is commonly seen in the case of migration, where distinct social groups start sharing a common space. Migration establishes by itself the otherness in the sense of an insider (local) and an outsider (migrant), and the relation between them can develop in numerous ways and complexities. Whereas collaboration is to be a form of desired integration, oftentimes the alterity relation of migrants and locals is based on domination, conquest, or assimilation [13,50,56].
Alterity theory is useful to allow us to better understand how the constructions of the other affect two central aspects of community life: First, the construction of the other reshapes all actors involved and their views. Alterity theory states that every relation between an “us” and an “other” redefines identities, and therefore identities are conceived as dynamic processes. That is, the locals change by the sole interaction and common life with the migrants, as well as the migrants change by the interaction with the locals. Put in Todorv’s words, “the plurality of the environment is at the same time the correlate of plurality of the people of this particular environment and the diversity of roles that everyone has” [55:160]. This means that migrants and locals do not define themselves separate from the other, they are a result of this common space they share. Furthermore, Todorov argues that “this mutual definition and construction of one’s identity and the other is also pinned to the search of recognition, which responds from the need to submit the other to recognition” [55:40]. This recognition is a central element of community life given that as long as both groups fail to receive recognition or legitimation in relation to the other, the alterity relation will be a constant, oftentimes conflicting, negation of the other. Second, the redefinition of identities has a direct effect on how social cohesion is developed according to this theory. That is, the construction of one and the other plays a role in how those two groups think and value the other, affecting their interaction and formation of social bonds. Within an alterity context, social cohesion is key because it provides the ability for locals and migrants to embrace belongingness to the same community and space, as well as to resolve the conflicts and tensions loomed up by the “otherness” [57].
Thus, alterity theory as a theoretical framework sees migration as an encounter of locals and migrants interpreting the context, the other, and themselves. The theory allows the analysis on how locals and migrants develop interactional processes and social cohesion, while defining the other and themselves. How the search for recognition unveils struggles for power is underlined by their interactions, valuations, and knowledge about the other and themselves in a common context.
That is, the complexity that entails the encounter with each other in a migration context demands a comprehension on how the self and the other are being understood. This is achieved through an applied understanding of alterity from a social standpoint, identifying at least three dimensions as proposed by [13]. Accordingly, when encountering the other, differences becomes what defines otherness to each social group, and such differences will be reflected in the forms of knowledge, values, and ways of action. More specifically, these three dimensions include an epistemological one (what I know of the other), an axiological one (how I value the other), and a praxeological one (how I act in relation to the other).

4. Methods

4.1. Site Selection

This study was conducted in the Araucanía region of southern Chile. An estimate of 983,449 people lives in this region, of which almost a third (31%) resides in rural areas, 30% have either formal education or unfinished basic education, and 32% are indigenous [58]. With a median income per capita around eight times smaller than the wealthiest region in the country [59] and 23% of its population living in poverty [58], this region is Chile’s poorest [59].
Despite this context, the Araucanía region of Chile is known for its pristine natural environments and beauty, attracting visitors from all over the world to small communities and National Parks. This natural setting also attracts white, urban, middle-class amenity/lifestyle migrants from Chile and abroad [26,60]. In particular, the town of Malalcahuello, located in the Chilean Andes, is close to the entrance to Malacahuello-Nalcas national reserve and receives an important influx of lifestyle/amenity migrants. Such migration is reflected in demographic and economic indicators. The Chilean census reported 172 households and 443 people living in Malacahuello in 1992 [61]. By 2002, there were 192 households and actually a decrease in population, totaling 368 individuals. However, by 2014, the number of habitants increased to a total of 1000 [22]. Malacahuello’s construction permits grew from 8 between 1990 and 2000, to 224 between 2001 and 2014 [22]. The number of visitors to the National Reserve, according CONAF (Chilean National Parks), grew from 1518 to 101,326 between 2000 and 2015. By 2015, the local chamber of tourism reported a total of nearly 1200 beds and 51 boarding enterprises.
Malalcahuello has a history that is highly associated with its natural resources. The first settlers to this community arrived in 1918 as part of a land-grant process promoted by the Chilean government. These settlers depended predominantly on timber extraction, particularly focused on the cut of old growth Araucaria trees (Araucaria araucana). The extractive activity served to attract other settlers that were hired by the first colonizers to work in the timber industry, many under the form of “inquilinaje”—a system where landowners allowed workers to live in their land in exchange of work. The timber extractive activity reached its peak between 1938 and 1970 [22] with the establishment and operation of the Mosso timber processing plant located 28 Km to the West in the town of Curacautin. A series of events through the second half of the 20th Century including the modernization/mechanization of the factory (starting in the mid-1950s and eventually leading to massive layoffs); the establishment of a national law prohibiting the harvest of the Araucaria; and ultimately the closure of the factory (early 1990s), led to a repressed local economy by the mid-1990s [22].
During the late 1990s, Malacahuello entered an economic transition fueled by an appreciation of its natural assets. Tourism activities started slowly emerging initially in the form of small businesses (e.g., the rental of small cabins) led by small numbers of individuals who migrated from other places. During the early 2000s, two significant tourism-related enterprises were developed in the vicinity of Malacahuello: the Corralco ski center (built on the nearby Lonquimay volcano) and a hot water spring complex (built in 2003). These two projects became the turning point of Malalcahuello, as it made others in the country (and the world) aware of its existence. This “discovery” was followed by an in-migration of individuals [62], mostly from Santiago [22]. In 2012, Corralco greatly expanded its ski center in addition to the construction of a 5-star hotel followed by an aggressive marketing campaign. These changes made Corralco a world-known destination, attracting the largest numbers of tourists to Malalcahuello in its history paralleled by the in-migration of urbanites.
Recently, studies have reported several effects of this transformation trend. One of the most noticeable is the subdivision and sale of land particularly on the hills surrounding Malalcahuello [22] followed by dramatic increases in price [23]. A recent study reported that the price for a half hectare 10 years ago was around $2000 USD, while in 2014 the same half hectare cost around $180,000 [23]. The emergence of small tourism-related businesses (e.g., restaurants, cabins, ski rentals) has also become noticeable. While the local population has started participating in the development of these businesses, the initiative has oftentimes been of the migrants. Relevant to our study is the culture clash that exists between many local residents and migrants as reported by [22,23], and our own fieldwork. There is a clear lack of integration between the locals and the migrants—called by the locals afuerinos (outsiders). Despite multiple attempts by the migrants to integrate themselves in the community, the differences between groups are palpable and affect their relationship.

4.2. Data Collection

Data for this study were collected in several instances during a 1.5-year process. In June 2015, the PI visited the community with the second author and a student (Vásquez, a local who also conducted her undergraduate research in the community—cited earlier). During this visit, the investigators inquired about the social and biophysical transformations in the community through a focus group with locals (9 participants) and informal conversations with local residents (4 participants). Both the focus group and the conversations were exploratory, open, and unstructured. A second exploratory visit was conducted in January 2016 in which more observations and a focus group with migrants (12 participants) were conducted to continue understanding the issues happening in the community. In both visits, detailed notes were taken and the research team engaged in conversations every evening in order to share insights. In September 2016, two more focus groups were conducted (1 for migrants and 1 for locals with 3 participants each) with a more specific set of questions that emerged from the information learned from the two previous exploratory visits. Questions included themes related to community change, tourism, and the arrival of migrants to the community. The information gathered from all the visits until this point, was used to construct the interview guide used in November 2016 by the PI and a trained student assistant. The guide consisted of 3 open-ended questions (each with a series of probing questions) addressing the three topics that community residents have shown to be more concerned/passionate about in the previous visits: community change (sources and sentiments about it), the “other” (knowledge, valuation, and relations), and future expectations.
An initial list of potential focus groups and interviews participants was provided by the abovementioned student who lives in the community (Vásquez) who is knowledgeable of both locals and migrants. She followed a purposive sampling approach for this defined by resident status (e.g., migrant/local). Initial recruitment for participation was conducted by the research team using the initial listing and following IRB protocols. Following a snowball procedure, individuals who participated in the study were asked to provide contact information of others in the community that would be willing to share their insights in relation to the questions asked. A total of 27 individuals participated in the focus groups and 47 individuals participated in the interviews (25 migrants and 22 locals). Table 1 summarizes the demographic information obtained from both groups.

4.3. Data Analysis

Data from the interviews were analyzed through a directed content analysis approach [63]. Such approach guides the analysis and interpretation of data as it framed by the chosen theoretical framework (alterity theory). We analyzed the data guided by how migrants and locals viewed the other (based on the three dimensions proposed by alterity theory) and how such views related to community development efforts in the community. Even though we had a question particularly focused for each of the dimensions laid out by the framework (e.g., what do you know about the other?, how do you feel about the other? and how do you relate to the other?), we analyzed the entire interview to seek for responses matching each of the three dimensions considered and their relationship to community development. Thus, we examined the full text to capture the meaning that the interviewed was trying to convey for each of the dimensions and how they related to community development.
Our data analysis followed a three-stage process following [64]. First, data were described through a matrix. Columns in the matrix corresponded to each interview question, while rows corresponded to each respondent; thus, each cell reflected the answer to each question for each respondent. Then, each cell in the matrix was scanned for information that responded to each of the study questions guided by the framework chosen. When a cell provided information that qualified as a response to a research question, it was color coded (e.g., green = epistemology, blue = axiology). The third and final stage of the analysis consisted of the interpretation stage. In this stage, the interviews were revisited according to the cells coded in stage two for the purpose of interpreting the responses that spoke to the issue of interest and to identify patterns among respondents. For instance, all responses that shed light on epistemological responses were revisited in order to understand what each group knew about the other one. Particular attention was paid during this stage to recurring responses to report trends instead of isolated responses.
Trustworthiness and credibility were achieved through reflexivity and triangulation [65]. Reflexivity was achieved by incorporating more than one researcher in the study and by keeping a reflexive journal during the research process. Analyst triangulation was conducted by reporting and discussing findings between the different authors during the exploratory stages of the study and once the KI interviews were described, analyzed, and interpreted [64].

5. Findings

It is important to note that the construction of differences in Malacahuello departs from an intrinsic/given categorization (or labeling) of “locals vs. migrants” or “us vs. them” which guides the majority of the discussions in the community and has practical/behavioral implications (discussed below). This categorization, we learned in our interviews, is more complex than simply defined by the place of birth or where someone grew up, as some highly-regarded locals were indeed, migrants. Despite that such “neo-locals” were born elsewhere, they were clearly seen by the locals as one of them. We noticed several elements that can help explain why they were seen as locals by the local population. First, these “neo-locals” were also rural residents born/raised in a rural community of the region, and to a large extent shared lifestyles similar to the ones of the locals. Second, these “neo-locals” have successfully integrated themselves (e.g., socially, culturally, and geospatially) into the community, making friends, living among locals, helping others, worshiping together, etc. Third, these neo-locals arrived to the community many years ago, before the phenomenon of amenity migration became prominent in Malacahuello. Thus, where these migrants came from and how they were raised, how much they have integrated themselves to the community, and in the stage of the amenity development process they arrived, seemed to be important factors for determining if someone is considered a [neo] local or a migrant. Particularly related to the last factor, Malacahuello seems to be, as expressed by almost every local interviewed, in a point of perceived “migrant saturation” where locals feel there are too many migrants in town. At this stage, migrants seem to be seen by locals as a group rather than individuals, limiting their ability to really understand or get to know migrants individually, their histories or aspirations. Numerous local respondents expressed more positive comments towards the first migrants who arrived sporadically and were able to describe them, their histories, where they came from, where they lived, their aspirations, and personalities as well as commenting having some sort of relationships with them. The same cannot be said about the more recently arrived and larger groups of migrants. We believe that, at this point, epistemological, axiological, and praxeological elements gain relevance for the construction of differences. These are discussed below.

5.1. Views of the Other

5.1.1. Knowledge of the Other (Epistemology)

In terms of responding to the question “what do you know about the other?”, locals seemed to know very little about migrants. Their common responses included that the migrants were people that came mostly from Santiago and that they were wealthy. However, several interviewed locals commented that the migrants were not a homogeneous group, categorizing them in two broad groups (e.g., a “desired” group and an “undesired” one, both which will be discussed below). Because what much of what defined these groups had to do with value judgments rather than with knowledge based on facts, the discussion of these will be provided in the following subsection (axiology).
Migrants seemed to be more knowledgeable of the other, but mostly about the historical past of the migrants. Several migrants noted that the locals had a history rooted in timber extraction, where the ancestors of the locals arrived to Malalcahuello following a land-grant program promoted by the government. Migrants knew that the initial colonizers exploited the forest and attracted a working class of colonizers based on colonial forms of domination known as the “inquilinaje” system. Several migrants mentioned that the individuals living under such system lived in a form of “pseudo-slavery”. Migrants also talked about the difficulties faced by the locals once timber extraction dried up, leading to high levels of unemployment, poverty, and high dependence on welfare.

5.1.2. Valuation of the Other (Axiology)

To the question of “how you feel about the other?”, local respondents provided an overall dichotomous answer reflecting two types of migrants. The first type of migrant was defined as an individual who was open to interacting with the locals, showed great concern for protecting nature, and was interested in living an easy pace of life. The second type of migrants consisted of individuals who were seen as those guided only by financial reasons even at the expense of nature, and who were not interested getting to know the locals or being part of the community. Individuals fitting under this category were seen as people living a fast-paced life reflecting their main goal of creating as much wealth as possible.
Locals stated their acceptance and approval of migrants fitting in the first group. Locals also noted that most of the migrants fitting in the first group belonged to a small number of migrants that arrived independently and sporadically to the community several years ago, before migration to the community became a mass phenomenon. Locals expressed being thankful of the positive changes that these migrants have brought to the community, as they were seen as more educated and with more capacities and resources that helped the community move forward into the 21st century. In that sense, the migrants that came earlier were seen as positive contributors for the community as they displayed attitudinal and behavioral characteristics that were desirable and good for the community.
Locals also expressed their clear discontent with the second type of migrant, referring to them as condescending, materialistic, only interested in the bottom line, and who exploited both nature and locals. Locals did not care for these migrants and brought up stories in which they were depicted as the cause of the current problems in town (e.g., high costs of land, population growth, and environmental deterioration). A local woman noted:
With the people that care for nature, we get together with them, we have good communication with them. With the others, we don’t. They don’t fit our world. We were probably raised differently.
Differently from the first type of migrants, this second type of migrants were seen as threats to the community. They were particularly threatening due to the power the locals perceived them to hold, as they were seen as individuals with the capacity to change the community in ways that locals did not desire. That is, migrants were seen by locals as powerful agents of change given their perceived higher education levels, their know-how, their networks in Santiago, and the economic resources they owned, which were automatically ascribed to their urban upbringing. Often locals talked, in a very bitter way, about how migrants had abilities and resources to do whatever they wanted in the community. Several local respondents complained about the ability of migrants to appropriate land and build/develop businesses, something that locals felt very unable to do for financial or educational reasons. A local woman speaking bitterly about the migrants doing whatever they wanted told this story:
We have been waiting for years to get our hands in a little piece of land [through a government-led assistance program]. But these afuerinos (outsiders) come here and in a few days, they own large amounts of land. One of them bought land next to the river, where I have been going to every day with my family ever since I lived here. After she bought the land, she threatened me and my kids many times to leave the area, but I never listened to her because I knew the river is public. One day she brought big aggressive dogs to run us out of there. I had to get the law printed and bring it to her to show her she didn’t own the river and that I was allowed to be there. Oh, it got ugly many times with her.
Upon inquiring which group represented the majority of the migrants, most locals stated that they consisted mostly of the second group: the undesired ones.
In the case of the migrants, they referred to the locals as kind, good, and with no maliciousness. Words such as timid, shy, and innocent were used to describe them. The owner of a successful tourism business said about the locals:
They are quiet, shy, honest, very good people, noble, with no maliciousness. They are warm, hard-working, they are town people. They are very innocent. Very lovely people.
However, migrants also described locals in other ways, using words such as lazy, drunk, and jealous. A few of the migrants openly stated their distrust and discontent with the locals, explaining how it was very hard for them to find a reliable worker amongst them. Further, the more outspoken respondents felt that locals were always talking about them behind their backs and cared little about them.
Highly linked to the axiological dimension of our study, we found that, despite the existence of positive valuations of the other, there was a prominent reproduction of negative stigmas in town. Members of both groups seemed to constantly feed their negative valuations of the other by reminiscing on negative memories of what members of the other group did wrong in the past. Oftentimes, members of both groups shared stories with the research team of events that happened many years ago to support their negative stigmas about the other. These included stories of how migrants took advantages of locals when hiring them or how locals stopped showing up for work in the middle of an important project. On the other hand, respondents refrained from talking about the good things that members of each group have done for the other, such as the multiple programs that migrants have developed in town to help the local children.
Some respondents believed that key local actors in town constantly reproduced these negative stigmas in addition to telling locals not to talk, work, or even relate with the migrants. For instance, some migrants believed that the local “elite”, the descendants of the landowners, in an effort to retain the local population in their grip, kept reproducing these negative stigmas. Another example includes the local municipal leader, who publicly encouraged locals to refrain from letting migrants “take over town”. Other respondents shared that some of the religious leaders in town forbid locals to mingle with migrants because they “were the devil”.

5.1.3. Relation to the Other (Praxeology)

Members of both groups mentioned that the relation with “the other” was limited and took place mostly in terms of commercial transactions. These included times when migrants for instance had to shop at the small grocery stores owned by the locals. A second form of interaction happened within the meetings in town resulting from membership in voluntary organizations (e.g., board of neighbors, chamber of tourism, and school board). Most migrants and locals described relations that were not deep, bonding, or producing strong ties. Most respondents mentioned they did not worship or celebrated together with members of the other group. For the most, each group kept to itself except when they could not avoid it.
However, although in limited occasions, there were situations where a deeper interaction, one that seemed to be leading to higher levels of communication and integration, were brought up during the interviews. These included the interactions between younger locals and the “desired” type of migrant (e.g., town space), between the local and migrant parents of children attending the only elementary school in town (e.g., school space), and between migrant employers and local employees (e.g., work space). For instance, in the case of the younger generations, the divisive and dichotomous discourse of “us vs. them” was not as prominent, and many younger locals were starting to mingle, date, and even marry migrants. Another example includes the case of the latter situation, where migrants and locals worked together, as some migrants purposively sought to hire locals in their businesses. Locals interviewed expressed their initial surprise at being able to engage in non-work related conversations with their bosses, followed by an even higher level of surprise to learn that migrants were not as “bad” as they had heard. Locals expressed how their view of the migrants changed within the workspace, starting with the simple practice of breaking bread with the “boss”—a practice not acceptable in the context of the previous employee–employer relationship during the timber extraction era. The initial awe of being treated as equals was surpassed when locals learned that migrants also had life problems and afflictions. A local man working for a migrant who owns a restaurant said:
I suddenly realized that they also have problems like we do. That they struggle with things as well. That they are faced with many challenges. I didn’t think that was the case, I thought they had everything figured out or given to them.

5.2. Effects of Views on Local Integrated Development

The limited knowledge each group had about the other, coupled with the negative judgments of the other (and its constant reproduction) and the limited interaction (and subsequent cohesion) between groups, have led to a situation in Malalcahuello where the “us vs. them” differentiation is noticeable and constantly fed. Within the context of community development, such differentiation played a big role in creating barriers for a positive and efficient collaboration between groups as productive and purposive interaction (towards the establishment of development efforts) and subsequent formation of cohesion was obstructed. More specifically, given the lack of cohesion between groups in Malacahuello, members of each group have failed to agree on development goals and have developed an apathy and distrust towards community development organizations. These two scenarios are described below.

5.2.1. Lack of Shared Goals

The interviews shed clear light that the differentiation “us vs. them” (further nurtured via limited knowledge and interaction in addition to negative valuations) was present in conversations regarding how members of each group viewed the future of the community. It was clear that the two groups had different goals. A local woman expressed this sentiment by saying:
It would be great if we all pushed towards the same direction. Things would move much faster. But it is not like that right now.
Migrants, almost exclusively spoke about their vision of Malacahuello as a top tourism destination. Their discourse was primarily permeated by themes revolving around things that would benefit the development of tourism in town. Oftentimes, migrants expressed their desire to bring in the local population into this “dream”, hoping that locals would directly or indirectly start working on different aspects that could ultimately benefit tourism development. Seeking this, migrants would commonly get involved in the community, leading organizations or telling locals what to do.
While some locals did not blatantly oppose tourism, and were actually developing tourism businesses, they had other priorities. These priorities revolved around a vision of a slow development that protected the rural, quiet, and safe characteristics of their town. A local woman who has lived all her life in the community said:
At least for me, I would like to see the peacefulness of this place to remain untouched. That is essential. I mean, people can come here to live, because you can’t really prohibit that, whomever has the money can chose where they want to live and if they like the calmness of the place and want to live here, I welcome them. I would like to see a community where we worked together, the ones who live here and the ones who migrate. But above all that, I would like to see the peacefulness of this place kept. That we care for our neighbors, that kids can go out to play or go do errands without having to worry about them…if someone needs help, we all can help, I want my kids to live the way I did. I want them to live in community.
Further, while the lack of consensus for the future of Malcahuello was a problem that emerged from “true” differences of desires and aspirations, we also observed such lack of consensus to be fueled by the separatist “us vs. them” differentiations which reflected the failure of each group to recognize or validate the other, their visions, and expectations. In that sense, the lack of consensus was externalized as a struggle for power in terms of which group governs/leads the way over the other. This scenario was present in the description of discussions related to the development and future of the community. An example of this was provided by a local woman talking about the president of the board of neighbors:
For instance, we have a new president on the board of neighbors [who is a migrant] who lives on the route to the volcano. He cannot possibly have an idea of what happens in town if he doesn’t live here. I don’t think we share the same interests, those that affects them and us. We have lived here all our lives and see the needs that our town has.
In other words, the lack of consensus in regards development goals can also be explained by a failure to recognize or validate the visions and aspirations of the other, leading to an almost defensive position in which each group protected their grounds and attempted to limit the amount of change/control/power that members of the other group could do/achieve/gain.
Given this scenario, there was a clear stagnation in terms of defining a common development route for Malacahuello. Members of both groups wanted to see something happening, yet did not know how to reconcile their differences, particularly in the context of viewing the community and the decisions that could be made for it in a dichotomous way.

5.2.2. Distrust and Apathy towards Local Development Organizations

The interviews shed light that there was a very clear community-wide apathy towards local development organizations. This current discontent with community development organizations was not always present in the community, as respondents reminisced of great work past leaders had done and the large participation they used to see.
Interviews shed light about the reasons for the current discontent which carried a strong “us vs. them” discourse. Reasons reflected changes in leadership (with migrants starting to become leaders of development organizations), frustrations over differences of opinions, the tone used in meetings, and the overall feeling that these organizations were not working for the benefit or interest of the common, but the interest of a few. Many locals expressed their discontent at noting how the goals that these organizations had, changed with the change of leadership, which they claimed was in clear favor of what migrants wanted. A local woman talking about her feelings in regards preferential decisions being taken in the board of neighbors said:
Many of them [migrants] are now leaders of our organizations, but their interests are not the community’s, their interests revolve around what they want, oftentimes benefiting particular individuals.
Further, many locals expressed their frustration because migrants were constantly telling them what to do, oftentimes in what locals conveyed to be a very condescending tone. A local woman who has been open to migrants and known to be a “bridge” between the two worlds expressed her apathy towards meetings given the tone used by one of the migrants:
This migrant comes in and says: “I don’t understand what the problem is. Let just have everyone buy a snow plow and put it in their vehicles and clear the snow from the ground. After all they only cost about 4 million pesos.” The locals, we looked at each other thinking, who the hell has that kind of money? The tone and the condescending ways of some of these migrants is simply something we could not take any more during the meetings.
A long-term man migrant who saw himself and was seen by many locals as a local, noted:
They [the migrants] come here to tell us what to do and how to do it. They don’t understand that we already dealt with all of that years ago. They come here to reinvent the wheel thinking we don’t understand how to deal with our own town.
As a result of these circumstances, even in the context of attempted collaboration, the support towards development organizations has practically vanished in Malalcahuello. Many in town, including migrants and locals, were extremely reluctant to participate in these organizations or support them.
Despite this apathy, residents clearly wanted to see the resurgence of these organizations, one in which they envision a joint effort between locals and migrants. A local woman married to a migrant expressed her desire for better collaboration in town:
Look, at this moment the only thing I would like to see is a Malacahuello where things get done. I would love to see, perhaps a board of neighbors or whatever you call it, that can run this town. That board should be well formed, with clear ideas and should have power to do interesting things, beautiful things, that have something to do with sports or culture…but for that we need a good board, with good leadership, that knows how to run this place. It would be nice to see a board that was inclusive, because in here that doesn’t happen. And it is not fair, I think things should be even for everyone.
Another local woman who has lived all her life in the community noted in regards her desire of a common ground for the community:
I would like to see a fusion between the outsiders and us, so that we can all work together for the good of the community, no matter where the ideas come from…More than anything else I would like to see an integration of people, from the outside and from here, that they join and push towards the same direction.
Altogether, local initiatives aimed at improving the community have happened in a context filled with division in Malalcahuello. This is caused, at least to some extent, by not knowing well the other, constantly reproducing negative stigmas about the other, and not significantly interacting with the other, all of which have kept barriers between groups high and cohesion low. As a result, there is a lack of consensus in regards to the development goals desired for the community and a strong apathy and distrust for local organizations. The lack of consensus extends beyond different visions and aspirations that each group has, as it is also fueled by power struggles, as the different groups fight for position and leadership that can potentially get them to steer resources and initiatives towards fulfilling specific desires. In a similar way, the apathy and distrust experienced in local development organizations reflect different aspirations, particularly as they set groups apart which engage in power struggles to impose their views and goals.

6. Discussion

This study intended to better understand how migrants and locals sharing a common place construct views of each other and how this affects local development. Previous literature examining how community development has been affected in amenity communities has attributed socioeconomic and cultural differences materialized in the forms of different languages, worldviews, behaviors, and homophily as the a priori reason for a lack of integration in community development efforts [32,35,47]. Our study found that beyond socioeconomic and cultural causes, which has been the departing focus in the literature, the reasons why groups fail to effectively work collaboratively, originate, at least to some extent, in the nurture of intrinsically constructed differences (us vs. them) in Malalcahuello. That is, the literature has correctly focused their initial examination of how differences are constructed by focusing on demographic variables and associated power behaviors/relations that accompany them [28,29,33]. However, as found in our study, such initial differences are fed and enhanced through limited knowledge and negatively charged valuations of the other in addition to a limited and mundane interactions between members of both groups. Such situation has led to a social context in Malalcahuello where there is very limited integration and cohesion being formed between most of the members of each group—one that would reduce the barriers between groups as learned by the few cases where integration and cohesion were happening. Further, findings suggest that the found epistemological, axiological, and praxeological conditions in Malalcahuello have played a role in negatively affecting the existing community development-related efforts and obstructed the creation of new interventions. This was observed in the way such conditions reinforce a constant separation of groups initiated in the “us vs. them” differentiation, which subsequently materializes in a lack of a commonly-shared development vision and the apathy and distrust towards local development organizations.
While we understand that it is impossible for all members of a community to integrate, for a community to be able to elicit meaningful, equitable, and sustainable development, it is important to have high levels of participation to define developmental goals that are inclusive and diverse [43]. This is particularly challenging in the case of rural remote communities like Malalcahuello, who has experienced a blend of distinct groups with diverging views.
In response to this scenario, a departing step for improvement is the “recruitment” of residents that already move in “mixed” circles to help foster a discourse that abstain from promoting the “us vs. them” rhetoric. This can be done through a purposive anti-divisive campaign or simply by forming groups and partnerships with members of both groups that can serve as examples. As noted by [66] in another case study of amenity migration in Costa Rica, locals reported learning a lot from merely observing migrants’ attitudes and behaviors. As learned in our study, these circles include younger generations of locals and migrants that are either socializing or marrying with members of the other group. While this seems as a somehow basic strategy, as noted by [67] rhetoric is critical for social functioning and development, particularly relevant in the context of change and migration:
A fundamental problem of human societies is to create unity out of potential diversity. Hence, rhetoric is a persisting necessity. The courtship of sexes, the socialization of children, the establishment of leadership, and the struggle for power are primarily matters of persuasion rather than genetic or instinctual programming (p. 74).
In addition to fostering a discourse that abstains from promoting a divisive rhetoric, these residents can serve as bridges between groups and help migrants understand that locals’ attitudes towards change and their discontent reflects what [68] refers to as a historically inherited socio-ecological inequality that started with the inquilinaje system during the times of timber extraction. This inheritance has social psychological repercussions that left locals feeling inept about dealing with change and threatened by what migrants represent in the light of it. As noted by a migrant academic that was interviewed: “migrants are the mirror in which locals see themselves and do not like what they see”. This entails that rather than imposing the migrant’s view of development over the locals, a common practice reported in the literature [5,28,33], there is a need to open up space to construct shared meanings and a less divergent local identity, all of which recognizes locals’ issues with change.
Locals, on the other hand, can be helped, through the actors noted earlier, to acknowledge and come to terms with the broader social context in which they are immersed, and realize that processes of migration can hardly be stopped. Migrants, wanted or not, however, can hold key assets to foster economic and social developmental processes, as the literature of amenity/lifestyle migration has noted [45,69,70,71,72,73]. Rather than retreating to futile defensive positions, locals can take an active stance in voicing their view and working with the migrants towards shared identities and goals. While a diversity of motivations and goals exists within the migrants in Malcahuello, many of them are highly invested in the community and hold enough human and social capital to effectively engage in dialogue, and in this way, negotiate identity, relations, and goals.
Residents tasked with these objectives can use spaces of fruitful interaction for these purposes, which, as noted in our study, are already present in Malcahuello. Such spaces are important to help facilitate a better understanding among groups and foster collaborative constructions of identity, relations, and goals. The interviews shed light on spaces where the relationships between groups provided opportunities to know each other and change prevalent value judgments. For instance, the school and the workplace were identified in our study as these spaces. In them, the relationships between migrants and locals were less marked, allowing members of both groups to interact, leading to a better understanding of the other’s views and hopefully leading to the realization of the “shortness” of dichotomized identities such as locals-migrants. At the school, migrants and locals meet and talk about issues related to the school and beyond, providing opportunities to share their ideas and feelings. This interaction of parents and guardians opens ways to rethink who are the “others” and who are “us”, establishing a praxeological space that allows a redefinition of the other/us in regard to new epistemological elements associated to particular characteristics and abilities of individuals. As a result, the fixed terms “local and migrant” become flexible within a context of more interactions, knowledge, and shifting valuations of each other.
Beyond the relationships among grown-ups, the school is also space where the barriers between groups can disappear in the case of the children. This is seen in the literature of multicultural education and inclusion, which describes the positive effects of better understanding and knowing the other upon interaction [74]. Nonetheless, the sole interaction between children and their families might not be enough for a deeper understanding of the other [57]. Intercultural education, which aims to change schools in order to promote equality between diverse groups through a better knowledge, valuation, and interaction with the other, can be a helpful pedagogical approach to contribute and strengthen alterity relations in a diverse community. An effective intercultural education requires firstly that teachers identify which dimensions conform diversity in their school, for example, gender, race, class and ethnicity; and then to understand how those dimensions interact and influence school and social integration [74]. In this sense, the interaction between diverse groups within school-aged kids, when it is intentionally focused towards specific goals, might contribute to a better collaboration, sense of equality, and access to equal opportunities.
The other space found in the study where epistemological, axiological, and praxeological conditions are changing was the workplace. In there, migrants and locals were interacting and learning from each other, allowing the opportunity for the existing stigmas and lack of knowledge between groups to lose strength. As noted by several locals interviewed, opportunities in the workplace like having lunch together with migrants, has allowed members of each group to talk and build trust, providing opportunities for the development of relationships that go beyond mundane interactions. Nonetheless, it is important to notice that these interactions can be meaningful only if the power holder (e.g., boss) is able to establish a less vertical and more horizontal praxeological working relationship that recognizes equal grounds for the interaction among participants.
Thus, while the social context of town presently reflected a differentiated/dichotomized town, plenty of opportunities to get members of both groups to know each other were present. This can lead to the reduction of stigmas and better understanding of each other, which produced a baseline for sharing concerns and developing joint solutions through local development initiatives. This should be a critical goal of any development approach that seeks to improve the sustainability of local communities.

7. Conclusions

The town of Malalcahuello allowed us to examine the impacts of amenity/lifestyle migration from the angle of views and their effects on local community development. The role of views between distinct groups has been evidenced in our study. Not only do such views create and feed separation between groups, they also deter stronger and meaningful connections. This has repercussions, beyond the direct relationship between people, in the way a town can develop and respond to changing conditions. Thus, views, fed by knowledge and value judgments about the “other” go beyond individual or group relationships, they have the potential to undermine growth and local development. This is because the divisiveness created by a separatist us vs. them discourse and the behaviors this creates leads to power struggles in which groups defend their visions and expectations. Such struggles can lead to stagnant development fueled by lack of consensus or by apathy and distrust.
It is critical to understand the diverging views that are constructed in amenity destinations, what feeds them, and how they materialize in behaviors that can be toxic at multiple levels within a community. Residents who are less concerned with dichotomizing relationships in a community and are more interested in the common good, can foster discourse changes through campaigns or by setting example through their action, all of which should seek to remove barriers to a better understanding of each other through the use of already existing social spaces that lend themselves for this task.

Acknowledgments

Funding for this study was provided by the Fulbright US Scholar Program, part of the US Department of State’s Institute of International Education Council for International Exchange of Scholars.

Author Contributions

All authors conceived and designed the study and data collection mechanisms; Matarrita-Cascante conducted the data collection and analysis; Zunino provided knowledge of the study area, assisted in a portion of the data collection, and contributed writing parts of the literature review and discussion sections; Sagner-Tapia provided knowledge on the theoretical framework, assisted in a portion of the data collection, and assisted writing the theoretical framework and parts of the discussion sections; and Matarrita-Cascante wrote the majority of the paper with assistance of Zunino and Sagner-Tapia in the sections described above.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Table 1. Sociodemographic information of study participants.
Table 1. Sociodemographic information of study participants.
Locals (n = 22)Migrants (n = 24)
Average Age (years)4947.5
Age Range (years)20–8530–90
Gender Distribution14F–8M18F–6M
Average Education (levels)4.76.5
Average Income (Chilean pesos/month)1.52.5
Average Time in the Community (years)41.77.6
Note: Education ranges between 1 = Complete primary school to 8 = Complete college degree. Income ranges between 1 = Less than $300,000; 2 = $300,001 to $1,000,000; 3 = $1,000,001 to $2,000,000; 4 = $2,000,001 and above (Chilean Pesos).
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