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Rural Development

  • By: Soren C. Larsen
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Rural development is the practical and intellectual effort to improve the economic welfare of people living in rural areas.

History of the concept

The conceptualization of rural development is closely associated with the emergence of the “rural” as a social and geographical category in the early 20th century. In the beginning, such development was closely linked to a nascent rural geography, and until the 1960s, it was difficult to differentiate between the two. Practitioners constructed the rural as an abstract space that could be manipulated to stimulate development (typically framed through the discourse of “modernization”) in areas where demographics indicated a dispersed population and extensive land use. Issues, staffs, and programs were organized largely along the sectoral lines of state bureaucracies such that rural development itself became ...

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