This is clearly an impossible task for a central or federal government and indicates the requirement for decentralisation of decision-making. But it may still not be feasible for a regional government and may demand an even more localised approach. This is essentially a problem of information. The complexity of the problems and the diminution of traditional agricultural relationships have increased the attention given to the role of social capital and networks in the delivery of rural development Lee et al. There needs to be a system whereby local circumstances can be assessed against national priorities and information disseminated to individual households and businesses on the opportunities and resources that can be made available in support of the objectives.
This will not occur at a single step and the ease with which it occurs at all will depend on local institutions and the level of social capital. A sectoral approach required little institutional development at the sub-national level.
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However, the move towards a territorial, and especially to a local approach, involves a much greater degree of choice and discretion in the ways in which public resources might be applied. This complexity makes far greater demands on information and local institutional developments are required in order to handle it.
Valuable initiatives have been made towards the development of local institutional structures through such schemes as Objective 5b and LEADER albeit in a sporadic and piecemeal way Ward and McNicholas, ; Ray, But such initiatives are very small relative to the total volume of support for rural areas that continues to be put into rural areas through the Common Agricultural Policy. Local institutions have an important role in dealing with the increasing complexity of policy implementation by building social capital for dissemination of information, networking amongst participants and co-ordination of activities.
Some of these are purely in the public sector, such as local government facilitation. Others are essentially private, non-profit organisations, but generally substantially supported through government funding. Some develop horizontal associations, such as land management co-operatives, while others develop vertical associations, such as facilitation for the implementation of policy.
More attention is needed on the optimal form and level of administrative intervention in the delivery of rural development policies. This sort of activity falls between the conventional roles of the public and private sectors, presenting a challenge to analysis that casts the two sectors in clearly separate roles. It introduces investment in and maintenance of social capital as legitimate elements of a rural development policy. In the positivist tradition Weimer, policy evaluation is undertaken to test the efficiency and effectiveness of specific public actions designed to achieve social welfare benefits.
For evaluation to work, therefore, policy objectives need to be unambiguously stated, and causal mechanisms need to be clearly understood. The latter is particularly important since other events or processes rather than the policy itself may affect the outcome. Increasingly, therefore, and especially in the study of rural development, there has been a search for validating measures, or indicators, which can discriminate whether policy action has been justified. Further, to appreciate the range of comprehension of different parts of the system and the stages at which policies impact, different kinds of indicators are required.
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Process indicators focus on policy implementation; output indicators provide quantitative measurements of effects identified as resulting from the policy; outcome indicators assess the extent to which policies achieve their stated objectives Moxey et al. But two types of problems are often encountered in the targeting of rural development areas Midgley et al. While the approach has now changed, in the United Kingdom deprivation has in the past been assessed against indicators measuring children in flats, Commonwealth immigrants or overcrowded housing.
None of these is representative of rural problems. No account was taken of the availability of local services, often a particular rural concern. Even an indicator of registered unemployment might be argued to be biased against rural priorities. In a large labour market, those who are unemployed can expect that regular job search will lead to the identification of a suitable employment opportunity. In contrast, in a small labour market people who are unemployed may well know that suitable vacancies are unlikely to occur and so decide to move to another area rather than remain unemployed within the local area.
This suggests that recorded unemployment might be lower because of out-migration. Further, it may be that the costs of registering as unemployed are higher in a rural area because of the distance to be travelled to the employment office and the potential benefits lower as information might be more readily available by other, personal means. Thus we might expect that a rural area with a given level of economic disadvantage would exhibit a lower level of registered unemployment.
This sort of argument might be generalised in that it is possible that the take up of social security benefits is on the whole lower in rural areas than it is in urban areas. This might reflect either the cost of registering to claim the benefit where it requires personal attendance in a local town, or else where social norms may give greater priority to independence and greater social stigma to claiming benefits from the state.
Thus, the smallest statistical unit within the Population Census is the enumeration district, the area covered by a single enumerator.
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These districts are then aggregated into larger statistical units on which the analysis is conducted. In urban areas, groups of people with similar socio-economic characteristics tend to live in certain localities. These are often large enough to be identified as separate statistical units. However, within rural areas with smaller settlements, the unit will often include the whole settlement and so households with lower income will tend to be included together with those on higher incomes.
Thus the mean figure for the rural unit may well fail to reveal the presence of a low income population. Table 1 suggests the different indicators and methods that may be associated with the different rural development models. They also have different implications for the sort of information collected and the potential policy inferences.
Even where the emphasis has shifted from increasing production, there is clearly potential for development by investing to reduce costs and rationalise farm production structures. The methods of analysis draw particularly on farm management but the approach clearly misses both the non-agricultural potentials for agricultural businesses and households as well as the conditions and opportunities in other sectors. The multisectoral approach recognises this wider economic environment and looks more generally at indicators of the state of the economy as a whole and the interrelationships between sectors.
However, in practice the focus tended to remain on farm business and households. Development is still interpreted largely in terms of employment and so policy evaluation concentrates on the costs of creating new employment opportunities. This may suggest initiatives to attract new firms into the area or to stimulate employment creation from the development of endogenous resources.
The territorial model recognises the wider set of social and environmental determinants of human welfare beyond employment and service provision. This suggests a cost-benefit approach that seeks to bring market and non-market values together into a single accounting framework.
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The approach remains quantitative and concentrates on quantifiable impacts and changes. It seeks to recognise the variations in experiences amongst households and businesses within a particular local area and the significance of social and institutional capital in facilitating collective and community development. This indicates the introduction of qualitative research techniques, case studies or discourse analysis, and more deliberative approaches towards decision making.
These different models and methods have direct implications for the sorts of information that may be available for policy decisions and hence for decision-making processes table 1.
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Table 1. Indicators and methods in different development contexts. Farm household income Employment and unemployment Local value added Employment incomes.
May still be limited to agriculture sector Misses social and environmental issues. Population change Proportion of population in disadvantage Average incomes Levels of service provision. Misses variations in incomes and welfare amongst population and specific local circumstances.
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Social indicators Numbers of people in particular circumstances Individual experiences. Capacity to consider full range of experiences but problems with quantification and aggregation High transactions costs. This established the scope of rural policy, which covers fair access to rural service provision, including housing and transport; business performance in both the farm and non-farm sectors; rural conservation and leisure uses of the countryside; and the vitality of communities and rural civil society.
Attached to these four priorities are a series of 15 indicators. For economic development, for example, performance of policy initiatives has been measured from employment activity rates and unemployment rates in rural areas, the proportions of market towns that are thriving, stable or declining based on service provision, business activity and employment , new business start ups and turnover of businesses in rural areas, total income from farming and off farm income, and levels of agricultural employment 5. This suggests a dominance of the multisectoral model in policy-thinking.
When examining these policies themselves, however, there are some challenging complexities. The focus on economic and social regeneration is divided into two, sustaining the relative prosperity of the majority of rural territory, and more specific measures to address rural areas with economic and social disadvantage. Most of these consist of rural top-up funding for existing economic development policies skills, business support, broadband technologies delivered through other Ministries or their agencies, and some minor regulatory modification of the land use planning system.
Improvement of the economic and environmental performance of farming and food production is argued to be directly relevant to economic regeneration, although the contribution it can actually make may be small 7.
The new paradigm may be seen as mixing the territorial and local models, with the more general territorial approach applying across rural areas, but recognising the potential for local variations in experiences and the role of case studies and some degree of decentralisation in decision-making. In the context of a single dominant sector, support for this sector may well have trickled down to the population more generally, although even here there may be doubts as to the extent to which such support ever did get to those who were most in need.
Much more importance needs to attach to identifying the specifics and spatial distributions of problems and their causes; but also, it is necessary to reveal the causal processes that have the potential to resolve the problems. As has been indicated, this may well require novel developments in the civil society of rural areas, but we have little systematic information on the roles and impacts of networks and associations in improving social and economic conditions. And we know less about how they may be successfully established and sustained.
Analysis crosses the boundaries between economics and sociology. Quantitative information is required on economic activities, but a necessary complement is required in qualitative analysis of the influence of networks, trusts or social norms. Rigorous in depth study of carefully selected local areas, using a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data, can develop a sense of the interaction between increasingly diverse mixes of measures in contrasting rural contexts where different factors influence their expression and impacts, and contribute to understanding of how and why they operate in the way they do.
These begin with selection and exploration of the objects of study, on the basis of general suppositions about the impact of policy which require testing.
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Multiple evidence sources should be scrutinized to test rival hypotheses, which might provide alternative explanations. Common protocols to investigate different expressions of the phenomenon impart additional robustness. Analysis requires assessment of different patterns in the multiple data sources to refine and rule out competing hypotheses, both within individual case studies and between case studies carried out in different contexts see, for example, Coffey and Atkinson, Local diversity implies that decisions must vary at the local level, but an appropriate multi-level governance system for the administration of rural development undermines the traditional understanding of effective sovereign governments delivering policies and assessing their impacts.
Differences exist in the operation of the networks of interests which have arisen to bridge the lack of coordination and consistency, overlapping with formal government structures and including specialist and highly effective interest groups, and informal frameworks embodied in conventions, each able to inhibit or facilitate the actions of others Morrison, The incidence of these, their effectiveness in addressing disadvantage, their impacts, and efficiency in deploying limited resources and expertise are all poorly understood and require investigation.
Case study methods can contribute to understanding of what is analogous to diverse ecosystems of intersecting associations and organisations, businesses, infrastructures, and environmental systems Edwards, Extending this metaphor, interaction, duplication, and synergy of rural civil society, and niche creation and occupation, are additional conceptual tools for analysis and investigation.