Hyper-Production: A New Metric of Multifunctionality

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Multifunctionality has emerged as the dominant framework for understanding rural socioeconomic landscapes. The central claim of multifunctionality - that rural regions need to be understood as being made up of more than just traditional uses - has led to the incorporation of new rural activities into regional development plans, e.g., tourism. In some places, such post-productive activity is perceived to be slowly replacing productive uses of the land, e.g., agriculture/forestry. However, there is limited empirical evidence to support such claims. Drawing on previous research and data from the Swedish countryside this paper shows that, even as the number of persons employed within traditional activities decreases, the economic output per areal unit and per labour hour is increasing over time and traditional uses still occupy the majority of rural space. Hyper-production is introduced as a new metric for understanding multifunctional regions going forward. The complementary union of economic mainstays, such as agriculture, and newer activities with more quality-of-life benefits, such as tourism, is highlighted in terms of economic diversification, job creation and local social capital development, while the conflict-prone intersection of these two modes is also acknowledged. Understanding hyper-production as a key metric of multifunctionality is thus argued as integral to planning and developing resilient rural regions now and for the future.


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