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Rethinking the European countryside-can we learn from the South?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Elizabeth Oughton


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A new paradigm of multi-dimensional rural development has emerged which advocates a broader conception of the rurality where the rural is no longer the monopoly of the farmer. This new, broader paradigm needs to be reflected in the methodology of social scientific research, both generic and applied. In this paper we are primarily concerned with transfer of research methodologies utilised in development studies in the South to explore their usefulness for rethinking the European countryside. Such a transfer of methodology may be helpful, because integrated rural development can build on a long legacy in the South, while it has only recently been advocated in the EU context. The paper reflects upon the application of two such analytical concepts originating from development studies, which we have applied for research on the rural geographies in the European countryside, namely Sen's livelihood capabilities approach and Chambers' concept of participatory rural appraisal (PRA). Having the sustainable livelihoods approach as overall framework, both methodologies are qualitative in nature and address people's survival strategies and livelihood practices with a focus on micro-level analysis at individual, household (Sen) and community level (PRA), while reflecting their embeddedness in wider social, political and economic structures. Our comparative studies suggest that the prospects for bottom-up development, as orchestrated by PRA or similar approaches, is constrained by structural factors, which define the boundaries for local development. The capabilities approach is useful to detect the capabilities to act and be within which bottom-up approaches may take their-though limited-role in rural development. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Korf B, Oughton EA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Rural Studies

Year: 2006

Volume: 22

Issue: 3

Pages: 278-289

ISSN (print): 0743-0167

ISSN (electronic): 1873-1392

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2005.09.005


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