From risky to responsible: expert knowledge and the governing of community-led rural development

Herbert-Cheshire, Lynda and Higgins, Vaughan (2004) From risky to responsible: expert knowledge and the governing of community-led rural development. Journal of Rural Studies, 20 3: 289-302. doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2003.10.006

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Author Herbert-Cheshire, Lynda
Higgins, Vaughan
Title From risky to responsible: expert knowledge and the governing of community-led rural development
Journal name Journal of Rural Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0743-0167
Publication date 2004-07
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2003.10.006
Volume 20
Issue 3
Start page 289
End page 302
Total pages 14
Place of publication Kidlington, Oxford, U.K.
Publisher Pergamon (Elsevier)
Language eng
Subject 220000 Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts - General
1205 Urban and Regional Planning
Abstract Rural development policy and practice in the ‘advanced’ Western nations is based increasingly on community-led strategies that seek to manage risk and facilitate change at the local level with minimal direct state intervention. It is widely assumed that such development strategies enable local people to have a greater say in transforming the fortunes of their communities, and are therefore a means of empowerment. Drawing upon the literature on governmentality, this paper argues with specific reference to Australia that such a view depoliticises the significant role played by expertise in defining, governing and setting limits on community-led rural development. We suggest that the notion of risk provides a crucial focal point for exploring sociologically the expert knowledge, categories and techniques through which communities are encouraged to think of and manage themselves as ‘self-governing’, ‘empowered’ and ‘responsible’. Additionally, foregrounding the concept of risk enables a critical analysis of the power-knowledge effects of expertise on rural development practice. Thus, we argue through the use of two case studies that while the use of various forms of rural development expertise creates opportunities for some communities, it enhances inequality for others who either fail to conform to the risk-minimising forms of conduct prescribed by experts, or who pursue alternative forms of development. The paper concludes by considering the implications of these arguments for rural development policy and practice in Australia and in other nations.
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Created: Fri, 24 Mar 2006, 20:18:37 EST