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Futures analysis, public policy and rural studies

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Neil Ward, Dr Chris Ray



Futures analysis through scenario building has become a common tool in framing debates around the strategic planning of rural policy and rural development in Europe and elsewhere. This paper examines the take up of such techniques in rural policy-making in Britain. It begins by developing a sociology of scenario-building by government. In Britain, this concerns not only the generalities of contemporary political culture but also the specificity of New Labour politics (and, by implication, the influence on central government of discourses of rurality). It briefly reviews recently commissioned rural futures studies, with particular emphasis on the Strategic Futures exercise, prepared for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Tomorrow Project’s State of the Countryside 2020 prepared for the Countryside Agency – the statutory agency responsible for advising the Government on rural affairs. The paper then concludes by considering the dilemmas around knowledge production in rural scenario-building.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ward N, Ray C

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Unpublished

Series Title: Working Paper Series

Year: 2004

Institution: Newcastle University

Place Published: unpublished