Spring 2017 Grants Awarded


Rural Inequalities Amidst Economic Crisis and Change: A special issue of Regional Studies

David L. Brown, Professor Emeritus, Development Sociology


“Rural Inequalities Amidst Economic Crisis and Change” is the theme that shapes and motivates the special issue of Regional Studies (Impact factor: 1.987) being prepared by the Trans-Atlantic Rural Research Network (TARRN). Professor Sally Shortall (Newcastle University) and I are co-editing the special issue.  This collection will provide an analysis of the social, economic and spatial determinants and consequences of inequalities across a wide range of domains of interest to regional scholars including the economy, local government and other public institutions, population size and structure, agriculture and the food system and environmental management (Hadjimichalis and Hudson 2014).  These papers consider how location in a nation’s settlement structure mediates how the various substantive domains are effected by immediate crises such as the recent global recession, the flood of refugees from Syria and North Africa, climate change, and by longer term transformations of fundamental social economic, and institutional structures such as globalization, political regime changes, etc. Of equal significance is the profound political change and uncertainty exemplified by the spread of right leaning populism as exemplified by the Brexit vote in the UK, the unexpected election of Donald Trump in the US, and increasing support for other populist candidates in the Netherlands, France and elsewhere.

Ward and Brown (2009) have noted that rural and urban communities, economies and environments are inextricably connected, and that these interdependencies must be considered when examining regional change and conducting regional development. They pointed out that, “Because regions often encompass both urban and rural areas, regional policies often include explicit strategies to develop rural places…” (Ward and Brown. 2009: 1239).  Further, they made a strong institutional case for placing rural in regional development by showing that this is consistent with the OECD’s New Rural Paradigm which is an integral part of its overall territorial policy framework (OECD 2006). The centrality of rural issues to regional studies established by Ward and Brown in 2009 remains undiminished today, and is corroborated by research and policy documents (Brown and Shucksmith 2017f).


Brown, D.L. and M. Shucksmith. 2017f. “Reconsidering territorial governance to account for enhanced rural-urban Interdependence in America.” Annals of the American Academy of political and Social Science.

Hadjimichalis, C. and R. Hudson. 2014. “Contemporary crisis across Europe and the crisis of regional development theories.” Regional Studies. 48:1, 208-218.

OECD. 2006. “The new rural paradigm: Policies and governance.” Paris: OECD.

Ward, N. and D.L. Brown. 2009. “Placing the rural in regional development.” Regional Studies. 43 (10): 1237-1244.