Rural development: From practices and policies towards theory

Ploeg, Jan Douwe Van Der; Renting, Henk; Brunori, Gianluca; Knickel, Karlheinz; Mannion, Joe; Marsden, Terry; Roest, Kees De; Sevilla-Guzmán, Eduardo; Ventura, Flaminia


The rural livelihood framework that has emerged from the debate on sustainable rural development is especially useful for analyzing rural development practices as actively constructed household strategies. Many scientists are finding it difficult to come to grips with the new model of rural development that emerges slowly but persistently in both policy and practice. Interactions with non-specific rural development policies at times are more important for their development. By stressing the dialectics between the real and the potential, rural development theory deviates intrinsically from the determinism of modernization approaches. If convincing and more comprehensive definitions are to emerge, it is essential that rural development be recognized as a multi-level process rooted in historical traditions. It is the complex institutional setting of rural development that makes it a multi-actor process. Perhaps the most dramatic expression of this has been the growing squeeze on agriculture and therefore on the rural economy in general.