The patterns, motivations, and consequences of the outmigration of young adults from rural areas is a classic topic in population geography. In our paper, we first take a critical look at statistical analyses and cartographic representations of migration patterns of young adults in rural areas using Central Germany1 as an example, stressing the shortcomings of quantitative analyses of residential mobility. We argue that migration is a complex social process, taking place as the result of the interplay of demographic, socio-structural, political, economic, and production-related factors involving the mobile individuals, as well as other actors, discourses, and practices. Following this, we discuss the emergence of cultures of (out-)migration in rural areas characterised by heightened mobility over longer periods of time and possible approaches to analyse such regional phenomena. We hence aim at a deepening of the concept of “culture of migration” and an expansion of the debate on motives and practices of migration to include psychological approaches, as well as a complex systems perspective.
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