THE RURAL LOCAL COMMUNITY IN DEVELOPMENT POLICIES IN EUROPE: DISCOURSE AND AGENCY

I.S. Semenenko

Irina S. Semenenko, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, Profsouznaya St., 23, Moscow, 117997, Russia. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

ORCID 0000-0003-2529-9283

Acknowledgements. The research was carried out through the financial support of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, grant No 19–011–31356 (Development of Rural Local Com- munities: The Potential of Identity Policy under Heterogeneous Socio-Economic and Socio- Cultural Regional Space of the Region).

Abstract. The paper presents an overview of the main theoretical and methodological ap- proaches to rural studies in contemporary social research. This is an interdisciplinary field which incorporates agricultural economics and history, social and economic geography, social and cultural anthropology and cultural studies, sociolinguistics, social psychology, sociology and politics, and analyses the trends of non-urban development and governance. The author discusses interpretations of “the rural” and “rurality” in academic discourse and outlines the relevant research agenda for studying the rural in Russia and in a broader European context with regard to resources that can be potential drivers for rural development and for consoli- dating rural communities. The study is based on the analysis of academic and public discourse concerning the priorities and strategies of rural development policies in the EU countries and reveals a direct impact of the rural studies research agenda and discourse on decision-making in local rural development policies. An important factor influencing public policy in this sphere is also, as the study shows, an adequate institutional framework for accommodating ru- ral interests at various levels of decision-making. Different resources can be relevant for pro- moting motivated and innovative identities and contributing to rural development, including values-oriented identity politics that see the rural community both as a pillar of tradition and a source of innovation in environment sustainability, heritage promotion and local good gover- nance. These issues are an integral part of the responsible development agenda — a conceptual framework for promoting innovative change at all levels of social life, one that can stimulate economic agents and individuals to pursue development issues and to hold responsibilities for the choices they make and for the policies they advocate. This is especially important for promoting agency in rural communities and for stimulating their interaction with other agents of social change — government and local authorities, business, NGOs, experts and academia. The latter can contribute to a relevant public discussion on rural development issues, to a clos-er cooperation between experts and rural communities and to further advancing their active involvement and the inclusion of rural interests into a broader development agenda. Such an input is all the more important for the Russian political research agenda where rural studies have so far been a marginal research area. It can also further stimulate empirical research on “good practices” and their implementation in public policy.

Keywords: rural studies, peasant studies, rural local community, social cleavages, local identity, rural identity, urban way of life, space, territory, natural / cultural landscape, rural development discourses, resources of development, development policies, community involvement, responsible development

DOI: 10.31429/26190567-20-3-6-27