Tales from a Small Island: Applying the ‘Path-Dependency’ Thesis to Explore Migration to a Remote Rural Community

Lorna J. Philip, Marsaili MacLeod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the perspicacity of the ‘path-dependency’ thesis for explaining pre- and post-retirement migration, extending existing debates in the literature on path-dependency retirement regions. The article presents a case-study of pre- and post-retirement migration to the Isle of Bute, Scotland. Drawing on findings from a household survey and biographical interviews with in-migrants to the island, we ground our understanding of path-dependency processes in individual behaviours and experiences, to demonstrate how specific attributes of particular places lay the foundations of path-dependent migration flows. Our findings support the path-dependency thesis, as applied to migration into rural areas, demonstrating how the Isle of Bute has followed a systematic trajectory from being a long-standing popular holiday destination with attractive natural amenities, to a popular retirement destination with a developed recreational infrastructure and, latterly, a popular pre-retirement destination in which personal networks influence migration decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147 - 170
Number of pages13
JournalSociologia Ruralis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Migration
  • Remote Rural Community


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