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Further Ideas about Local Rural Development: Trade, Production and Cultural Capital

Year of publication2000
Author(s)Christopher Ray
This paper is a contribution to the on-going theorisation of endogenous, 'bottom-up' rural development in an EU context. The ideas are presented on three conceptual levels. The first level proposes a set of models in which the territorial entities of endogenous development are portrayed as units of trade variously engaging with the wider political economy. The second level looks at relationships and processes within these local, territorial economies, re-invigorating Modes of Production theory with Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital. The third level returns briefly to rural sociology's interest in the interface between the 'local' and the 'extra-local', noting some of the ways in which the latter is supporting the endogenous dynamic. The aim of this paper has been to contribute to the theorisation of endogenous (rural) development in an EU context. The first set of ideas - under the heading of "models of trade" - conceptualised the territories of endogenous development as unitary actors. This is important regardless of how loose the degree of internal coherence and solidarity might be in a particular instance. What are the dynamics of endogeneity above the level of the component socio-cultural, economic and political entities? Endogenous development is an hypothesis which states that sub-national and sub-regional territories, released from the tyranny of exogenous and sectoral interventions, will be far more effective in the pursuit of their local well-being. Given that, in an EU context at least, the complete disengagement by a local economy from extralocal relationships is hardly an option, we need to consider the nature of the political economy environments into which the endogenous development territories are being launched. The three models of trading discussed in this paper represent different scenarios of local-extralocal relationships. How things will work out in practice is still uncertain. In the case of the LEADER Initiative, it is argued that aspects of all three scenarios can be observed. However, much of the impetus here comes from the combination of the co-sponsorship of the Initiative by the EU and its 'co-ordinated anarchic' nature. Whether any one scenario will become dominant, or whether others will emerge, is therefore partly a function of manifold decisions to be taken over the coming months The second set of ideas concerned the development dynamics within the territories of endogenous development. Care has to be taken here, as Shucksmith (2000) has noted, in that these territories are neither necessarily culturally homogenous nor socio-economically homogenous and to assume otherwise would be to risk exacerbating social exclusion. However, the concept of cultural capital as set out above avoids any such dangers. LAGs or other local strategic bodies may take action to create collective resources which are then available to the various actors of the territory to use as they may. These actors are not simply the 'foot soldiers' of a territorial imperative; they are the 'ways and means' by which such action comes about. It is the process of resource creation and utilisation that constitutes endogenous development whether or not the process becomes formalised. The territory functions, therefore, as an enabling entity. Add to this the idea of "development repertoires" (Ray, 1999a) and the possibility of social and economic groups using collective resources for their different needs is allowed. The importance of the interrelationships between the "forms of capital" - cultural, social, educational and economic - must also be stressed as it may be from this that the radical potential of endogenous development can be adequately theorised
Working Paper 49
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