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Expertise in Rural Development: A Conceptual and Empirical Analysis

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Philip Lowe, Professor Jeremy Phillipson, Dr Amy Proctor, Dr Menelaos GkartziosORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Understandings of socially distributed expertise as being key to living, interpreting and intervening in the world, are increasingly used in development narratives, referring usually to knowledge sharing across multi-stakeholder partnerships. This movement towards the democratisation of expertise challenges the ideological claim of science to be the exclusive source of objective information, evidence and discovery on which informed decisions and technological developments should be based. But if we reject that claim, what are the implications for the way stakeholders learn, organise and transmit knowledge and skills, and resolve problems? And how do science and expertise come together in development narratives and practices? We address these questions through an examination of the changing relationship between scientific, professional and non-professional expertise in rural development. Firstly, we examine the evolution of models of rural development and knowledge generation over past decades and introduce the concept of vernacular expertise – the expertise that people have and develop that is placed-based but crucially nourished by outside sources and agents and which underpins neo-endogenous development models. Secondly, by drawing empirically on qualitative research with rural advisory professionals who support farmer decision making we unpack the composition of vernacular expertise as a fusion of field/place generated and field/place focused knowledge, and consider how it may be better recognised and enhanced in development processes and policy agendas.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lowe P, Phillipson J, Proctor A, Gkartzios M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: World Development

Year: 2019

Volume: 116

Pages: 28-37

Print publication date: 01/04/2019

Online publication date: 24/12/2018

Acceptance date: 09/12/2018

Date deposited: 10/12/2018

ISSN (print): 0305-750X

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5991

Publisher: Pergamon Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.12.005


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