Using the rural web in dialogue with regional stakeholders

Lies Messely, Elke Rogge, Joost Dessein

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    Globalization transforms rural places through different ways, resulting in a newly differentiated countryside. Some regions appear to be more successful than others in reacting to the opportunities and threats that accompany these globalization processes. These change processes also resulted in the need for new theoretical frameworks, tackling the nature, dynamics and heterogeneity of rural development processes. The rural web (van der Ploeg and Marsden, 2008) is one of these new comprehensive theoretical frameworks on rural development. The web not only offers a tool for comparative analysis of different development paths both within and between regions, it can also be used as a diagnostic tool for exploring the potentials and limits of rural development patterns.
    It is within this context of a changing and globalizing countryside that the Social Sciences Unit of ILVO was approached by the coordinators of two LEADER-areas in Flanders. They wanted to take the bottom-up philosophy of LEADER a step further and wanted to involve local actors in writing the Local Development Strategy (LDS). The LEADER-coordinators were however faced with a lack of engagement techniques and tools to facilitate the dialogue with the local community. Therefore we explored the possibilities of using the rural web, not only as an analytical tool, but also as a mobilizing tool that can actively engage actors in reflecting on the development of their region. Based on a case-study research in two regions in Flanders we believe that we succeeded in adding an innovative applicability of the web. If certain preconditions are met, it lives up to the expectation of enriching the dialogue with regional actors. Furthermore, it can enable local actors to assess the state of their own region and to position it within a broader picture of changing rural areas.
    TaalEngels
    TijdschriftJournal of Rural Studies
    Volume32
    Pagina's (van-tot)400-410
    ISSN0743-0167
    DOI's
    StatusGepubliceerd - 2013

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