Rural development driven by unfolding rural webs

Today the main outcomes of the EU-funded project ETUDE were presented by our colleagues Jan Douwe van der Ploeg (scientific coordinator of ETUDE), Rudolf van Broekhuizen (project-coordinator) and Henk Oostindie (senior researcher).  Main finding is that neither policy, nor markets or grass root rural development activities are by itself decisive for successful rural development, but the web of different and increasingly interlinked networks. Or as Jan Douwe van der Ploeg states:

Successful rural development is rooted in a myriad of encounters, transactions, interactions and networks that link people, resources, activities and markets. (Source: E-magazine by British Publisher, pp. 64-65). 

Van der Ploeg & Marsden (in ‘Some Final Reflections’, the concluding chapter in the book ‘Unfolding webs’ , p 227) refer to these rural web as emerging counter-structures: 

because rural development processes (that are grounded upon and resulting from this web) are essentially transitional: they represent a major shift that takes many years to occur and which proceeds through changing conditions of invisibility and confusion. Visibility, coherence and comprehension only occur during, and as an effect of, this transition. We also refer to the rural web as a counter-structure because it increasingly helps to deal with complexity (especially Chapter 8 of this Volume), creating simultaneously new patterns of coherence. All this relates to the contested nature of rural development: what might be highly meaningful in terms of the rural web, might be insignificant or even ludicrous at the level of the dominant structure. What we are beginning to conceptually explain here, therefore, are the particular dynamic qualities (both new coherences and contestations) of web formation. These are, indeed, built out of the seeming contradiction between creating counter-structures to prevailing conditions, at the same time as re-creating new coherences out of these very deviations and ruptures.

The project has come to a closure. The findings and recommendations will soon be published in a second book. Earlier publications, such as the chapters of the first book ‘Unfolding webs’, edited by Jan Douwe van der Ploeg & Terry Marsden and published by Royal Van Gorcum, and deliverables (e.g. case study reports) can be downloaded at the ETUDE-website.

For more information on the outcomes you can contact one of the colleagues.