University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Issues of Integration, Participation and Empowerment in Rural Development: The Case of LEADER in the Republic of Ireland

Storey, David ORCID: (1999) Issues of Integration, Participation and Empowerment in Rural Development: The Case of LEADER in the Republic of Ireland. Journal of Rural Studies, 15 (3). pp. 307-315.

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Currently, within the European Union increasing emphasis is being placed on devising innovative development strategies for rural areas. Considerable stress is laid on integration, participation and empowerment. Integration implies a need for cross-sectoral harmonisation of developmental objectives as well as increased co-ordination between agencies involved in the developmental process. Participation implies consultation with those most directly affected, namely rural dwellers, hence increasing the level of involvement of local people in the development process. Empowerment suggests a greater degree of influence being wielded by local residents and, thus, some shift in the power balance between ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’ and between ‘professionals’ and ‘amateurs’. In practise, this has resulted in a plethora of initiatives which, to a greater or lesser extent, espouse the idea of a more locally attuned ‘bottom-up’ approach to rural development stressing the importance of involving local communities. This approach is seen as a more appropriate mechanism than traditional ‘top-down’ strategies. Within Ireland, a number of programmes have been in operation since the late 1980s. This paper presents some evidence from on-going research on LEADER II in Ireland suggesting that there are a number of issues which need to be teased out with regard to current initiatives. Power relationships at both national and local levels need to be explored. While there may well be beneficial outcomes, the nature and extent of participation is quite variable. It may well be more valid to view current developments in terms of a process of incorporation rather than a move to a ‘bottom-up’ participatory model. While current strategies may represent a positive move, there is a need to ensure that the rhetoric being employed is translated into reality.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: development, strategies, initiatives, rural areas, Ireland, Europe
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
Related URLs:
Depositing User: David Storey
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2007 15:05
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2020 04:00

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