Recent decades have witnessed the transition from the government of rural areas towards processes of governance in which the boundaries between the state and civil society are blurred. As a result, governance is commonly linked to ‘bottom-up’ or community-based approaches to planning and development, which are said to ‘empower’ rural citizens and liberate them from the disabling structures of top-down government control. At the same time, however, a range of other actors beyond the local level have also become increasingly influential in determining the future of rural spaces, thereby embedding rural citizens within new configurations of power relations.

This book critically explores the social causes and consequences of these emerging governance arrangements. In particular, the book seeks to move beyond questions of empowerment in governance debates and to consider how new kinds of power relations arise between the various actors involved. The book addresses questions concerning the nature of power relations in contemporary forms of rural governance, including: how community participation is negotiated and achieved; the effects of such participation upon the formulation and delivery of rural policies; the kinds of conflicts that arise between various stakeholder groups and the capacity of each group to promote its interests; and the prospects of this new approach for enhanced democratic governance in rural areas.

1. Introduction: Governing the Rural  Part I  Managing New Forms of Governance 2. Trust and Control in Farmer–Government Partnerships: a Dutch Case Study  3. Delineations of Private and Public: Emerging Forms of Agri-Environmental Governance in Central and Eastern Europe  4. Governance and Innovations in the Nordic Periphery  5. Governing Rural Landscapes and Environments: the Strategic Role of Local Community and Global Corporate Partnerships  6. Initiating Network Governance Through Competition: Experiences from Eighteen German Regions  7. Reflexive Agency and Multi-Level Governance: Mediating Integrated Rural Development in Hungary  Part II Contesting Government Strategies: State Policy and Local Agency  8. Neo-Liberalism, Neo-Mercantilism and Multifunctionality: Contested Political Discourses in European Post-Fordist Rural Governance  9. Transformation and Representation in Barangay Sibalew, The Philippines  10. Governance, Participation and Empowerment: a Non-Prescriptive Approach  11. Contested Forest: Logging the Main River Watershed in Western Newfoundland, Canada  12. Contesting Competition: Governance and Farmer Resistance in Australia  13. Individualism, Cooperation and Conservation in Scottish Farming Communities  Part III Prospects for Democratic Governance  14. Leadership in Place: Elites, Institutions, and Agency in British Rural Community Governance  15. Democratising Governance in Australia’s Regions: the Value of Regional Networks  16. Legitimacy, Deliberative Arenas and the New Rural Governance  17. Governing Bottom-Up in Rural Development: the Legitimacy Dilemma  18. Are Shadows Dark? Governance, Informal Institutions, and Corruption in Rural India  Conclusion  19. Rural Governance and Power Relations: Theorising the Complexity of State-Citizen Interactions