Rural governance and local involvement: assessing state-community relations in the Scottish Highlands

Daniel F MacKinnon

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    81 Citations (Scopus)


    Questions of rural governance have been attracting growing interest in recent years as rural analysts turn their attention to the institutional transformations that are taking place in and around the local state. This paper is concerned with the relationships between new governance agencies and rural communities. It follows recent contributions to the rural studies literature by adopting a 'governmentality' perspective which views the current emphasis on community involvement and empowerment as part of a broader neo-liberal strategy of 'governing through community'. In the paper, I address a particular gap in the governmentality literature by examining how the underlying shift towards community action and local involvement is mediated and implemented by local and regional agencies in the Scottish Highlands, focusing specifically on the relationship between local enterprise companies and local communities. As such, the paper explores the tension between the concern with local participation and the reliance upon a set of managerial 'technologies' such as targeting and financial controls which reflect a need to ensure that local agencies are accountable to (central) government. The paper argues that while local state agencies must be analysed within wider circuits of power. local agencies and community groups retain some capacity to influence processes of rural governance. In conclusion, I suggest that the governmentality approach provides some critical insights for re-interpreting and analysing rural governance as a particular field of research. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)307-324
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Rural Studies
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002


    • community
    • rural governance
    • governmentality
    • local involvement
    • Scottish Highlands
    • LEADER
    • ISSUES


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