- rural development,
- local development,
- regional disparities,
- rural policies
Copyright (c) 2021 Franco Mantino
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
The main objective of this work is to review the recent achievements on the mechanisms explaining local and rural development, which underpin the current definition of rural areas in the European literature. The analysis carried out in this article acknowledges a gap between local development processes and the current representation of rural diversity by international organisations and national/regional authorities. New concepts can be drawn from this comparative analysis: 1) rural diversity cannot be explained exclusively by agglomeration forces and geographical distance from urban centres; b) multiple functions of rural areas, often rooted into sustainable agri-food systems or other forms of territorial capital, contribute to explain more autonomous roles of rural areas; c) organised or relational proximity is emerging in a context of a globalised economy and non-geographical networks, as a critical factor of connection between rural areas and distant regions/markets. This article translates these different disciplinary developments into a practical and integrated conceptual approach, in which local development processes result from three components: local resource systems, networks, institutions and enabling policies.