The paper aims to identify the significant heterogeneity of socio-economic rural development in Poland by identifying different types of rural areas and clarifying the existing diversity. This objective requires the following: (1) defining the rural development in Polish conditions, (2) abandoning the urban–rural continuum concept, and (3) conducting an analysis involving data aggregated from the local administrative units (2173 gminas
/communes). The approach is exploratory and is limited to two questions elaborating the main problem related to the scale and character of rural variety: What socio-economic types of rural area are found in Poland? How are they distributed spatially? The statistical procedure is based on Diday’s dynamic clouds typological analysis. This yielded seven types of rural areas that exhaust their diversity. The main indicator of the character of the different types is related to the level of deagrarianisation of the local economy. The authors argue that the a priori urban–rural continuum model should be abandoned in favour of a more open approach. Typologies based on local administrative unit data, which avoid a priori assumptions concerning rurality, provide an excellent insight into the heterogeneity of rural areas.
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