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Abstract

Historically, perspectives on the economic development of rural regions have been dominated by the modernization model of agriculture (van der Ploeg and Van Dijk, 1995). During the last decades this model has increasingly been abandoned in an effort to reduce the negative outcomes associated with that model, driven by the changing concerns of consumers and society in response to these outcomes (van der Ploeg, 1999, Weatherell et al., 2003). Parallel to this socioeconomic evolution the theoretical perspectives on rural development altered. Discourses about the evolution of rural development describe the succession of an exogenous, modernist model of rural development by an endogenous model and in the end leading to an integrated model of rural development, combining the best of both worlds (Lowe et al., 1999, Ray, 1999, Murdoch, 2000, Siôn, 2002, Nemes, 2005, Vázquez-Barquero, 2006). Thereby it is argued that contemporary rural development should stress “the interplay between local and external forces in the control of development processes” (Lowe et al., 1995). This integrated perspective is also reflected in policy models, aiming at the creation of the conditions under which family farming, rural landscapes and society as a whole can flourish. This was formulated at the EU-level in the Cork Declaration on Rural Development in 1996 and since then became a pillar of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) (Potter and Tilzey, 2005). This will persist during the coming Rural Development programming period 2007-2013 (EC, 2005).

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