The Meaning-Forming Experience of Country Life for Former City Dwellers: the Existential Context



The study presented in the current article is related to the phenomenon of city dwellers moving to the country. It refers to the existential context of this phenomenon as the least studied and at the same time having significant heuristic potential for psychological science, its purpose is to identify the unique semantic structure of country lifeworld, as well as to investigate the stability and variability of this structure over time. Country life is considered as a special environment that contributes to the acquisition of personal meaning of life, the solution of existential issues of former city dwellers. The study was conducted on the material of country residents’ notes in social networks (87 text fragments) and literary texts (176 fragments). To analyze the data, thematic analysis and qualitative content analysis were used. The themes associated with the description of personally significant experiences of country residents were identified and described: waiting for being, dialogue with the surrounding world, labor and lifestyle, contemplation and peace, co-existence, nostalgia, being yourself, formation and kindheartedness. The final stage of the study was aimed at comparing the results of the analysis of texts of past centuries and texts of contemporaries, an additional analysis of the identified trends and variations in the key semantic themes of the country lifeworld. The results show the stability of the structure of the country lifeworld in historical terms and the special constitutive role of nostalgic experience.

General Information

Keywords: country lifeworld, existential context, experiencing, nostalgia, phenomenological approach, thematic analysis, historical and psychological method

Journal rubric: Empirical and Experimental Research

Article type: scientific article


Received: 23.05.2021


For citation: Kretova L.A. The Meaning-Forming Experience of Country Life for Former City Dwellers: the Existential Context. Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Psychology, 2021. Vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 265–283. DOI: 10.21638/spbu16.2021.305. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


Adamiak C., Pitkänen K., Lehtonen O. (2016). Seasonal residence and counterurbanization: the role of second homes in population redistribution in Finland. GeoJournal, 82 (5), 1035–1050.

Information About the Authors

Lola A. Kretova, PhD in Psychology Applicant, Institute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:



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