Governance, Partnerships and Power

Authored by: Áine Macken-Walsh

Routledge International Handbook of Rural Studies

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138804371
eBook ISBN: 9781315753041
Adobe ISBN: 9781317619864

10.4324/9781315753041.ch51

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Abstract

The concept of power is potent in the field of rural development and agriculture, resonating with debates on the powerlessness of rural people in highly regulated top-down agriculture policy making on one hand, and possibilities for greater bottom-up influences in multi-sectoral approaches to development on the other. Partnerships, typically theorised as institutions of governance, provide a mechanism for devolving power to local actors in designing and implementing development interventions (Ray, 2000). The mainstreaming of partnership approaches to rural development and agriculture across much of the world may appear to constitute a greater accession of power to rural regions and people. In exploring whether or not this is the case, the governance literature has been preoccupied with questions such as how partnerships disrupt traditional statutory powers and succeed in ‘opening up’ development design and implementation processes to a diversity of non-statutory actors. Such questions have led important areas of enquiry, identifying implications arising for how we understand changing power structures and outcomes for rural people.

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