Beyond Post-Productivism: From Rural Policy Discourse To Rural Diversity

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There has been a strong discourse in public policy aimed at transforming rural places from venues of primary production into truly diverse socioeconomic landscapes. Yet conceptualisations of the rural as envisioned in the policy and politics of the ‘new economy’ often prove to be elusive on the ground. However, post-productive activity in rural areas has become a major focus for rural studies scholars. This paper investigates the ideas of post-productivism in the existing literature, and argues for a holistic understanding of post-productivism as an idea and political ambition rather than an imperative and irreversible change of rural economic activity. The purpose of the study is to make clear the division between post-productivism and the related concepts of post-production and post-productive activities in order to better understand processes of rural change in relation to different geographical contexts. It is argued that post-productivism as a concept stands apart from de facto post-production and alternative concepts such as multifunctionality and should be regarded as part of broader regional development discourses. The paper outlines several important fields in which post-productivism is a necessary component for rural transformation and development. While it is not always easily captured in indicators or empirical studies in rural locations, postproductivism exists at the level of discourse and planning and thus has real effects on the ground. The paper concludes by offering suggestions on how to apply the concepts of post-productivism, post-production and multifunctionality in future studies.

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