The development of rural areas continues to be an international priority. The urgent need to fight poverty (mainly concentrated in rural areas) in developing countries, and the demand for increasing economic and social cohesion in developed countries, explain this priority on the political agendas of multilateral bodies, the EU and most other countries. When Development Economics was acknowledged as part of the social and economic theory in the 50’s, different theories and models have tried to explain the unevenness of development and the key elements or conditions that foster it. Traditional rural development programmes were characterised by the implementation of non coordinated, sectoral, horizontal and top-down policies and strategies. The lack of effectiveness and the failures prompted by these policies have propelled the development of new approaches. Territorial rural development is a policy approach embracing contributions from different theoretical frameworks that attempt to foster development strategies based on the consideration of territory as a social construction. Thus, the territory (including all the existing elements and its interactions) has become a key actor for development. However, most of these approaches contemplate rural world through simplistic and monodimensional analysis based on methodologies from single disciplines and on quantitative and/or qualitative morphological descriptions. The pretended multidisciplinarity, frequently ends up on an addition of mono-disciplinary analysis around the object of study. The objective of the present paper is to check the role different elements considered relevant for development by literature´s recent approaches play or can play in rural territories with a very different development situation, using techniques and tools that allow the analysis of rural areas from a complex perspective.


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