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Within Bourdieu’s (1986) essay on forms of capital, economic capital refers to material assets that are ‘immediately and directly convertible into money and may be institutionalised in the form of property rights’ (Bourdieu 1986, p 242). Economic capital includes all kinds of material resources such as financial resources or resources with exchange value including land and property. However, key to Bourdieu’s analysis was his observation that other forms of capital (social and cultural) can be convertible to economic capital through enabling processes, such as education or social obligations or connections. Moreover, economic capital afforded opportunities for developing or acquiring further stocks of social and cultural capital, providing a positive feedback loop, suggesting that the complex interplay of economic, social and cultural capital could be mutually reinforcing.

Understanding and exploiting this complex interplay between economic capital and other forms of capital has been hugely influential as both an explanation of the differential economic performance of rural places and also for rethinking rural development policy and practice. This implies moving beyond traditional economics to focus on the economic potential of tangible and intangible resources or assets. The variable economic performance of rural regions and localities has been the focus of much debate over the last two decades or more. As recorded by Bryden and Munro (2001), differences in economic development success between rural localities may be explained by the interplay of global and local factors. The external environment of rural regions, for example, is affected by current globalisation processes and by macro-economic conditions.

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This is a book about the relationship between rural places and planning, about how planning can support the co-production of ‘better places’ (Healey, 2010) and how, in turn, rural places are able to build the capacities and the neo-endogenous agency needed to achieve sustainable development goals (Ray, 1997; Gkartzios and Scott, 2014). Despite the rapid and fundamental transformations faced by rural areas over the last century, dominant planning orthodoxies have continued to treat rural places as residual and subordinate spaces that require little intervention or investment. This is, in large part, because they are viewed through the lens of agriculture-biased and productivist rationalities that elevate farming and preservation interests above everything else that co-exists in the countryside (Lapping, 2006; Lapping and Scott, 2019). This reductive approach is coupled with dominant discourses of rurality that either present rural places as exclusive, almost pre-industrial, havens for selective elites (popularised by the discourse of the ‘rural idyll’, Figure 1.1) or as places that are ‘left behind’ technologically, culturally and economically and thus unable to compete in a globalised economy (Murdoch et al, 2003). While none of these narratives captures the complex and nuanced reality of contemporary rural places, their persistence in popular, policy and academic discourses (for example Short, 2006; Cruickshank, 2009; Peeren and Souch, 2018) reveals a failure to appreciate the unique and highly context-specific attributes of different spatial pathologies. This rural myopia also impacts planning policy and practice, which privileges urban and metropolitan contexts in research and policy.

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This chapter explores how land is used and managed as a resource for rural places and for enhancing rural quality of life. We consider land as a fundamental and finite rural resource with human and non-human dimensions. While land is central to shaping the function, economic role, ecological integrity and quality of life within rural places, its management is also of critical importance in addressing global environmental priorities. These include climate change mitigation and adaptation, addressing biodiversity loss, food and energy security and sustainable water management. Extensive land-based resources are a central feature of rural places, with 86 per cent of land in OECD countries located in predominantly rural regions and a further 11 per cent in near-urban rural regions (OECD, 2020b). In relation to land, Hibbard and Frank (2019, p 339) remind us that:

Rural areas produce most of the world’s food and textile fibre. They are the source of most of its energy, minerals, water, and timber for construction and for paper pulp. They host the vast majority of the planet’s plant and animal species … Importantly, rural areas are undergoing a major transformation and are the locus of many of the most pressing planning issues, from climate change to biodiversity loss to land-use conflict to rapid market fluctuations.

Extensive land-based resources, in addition to the amenity and heritage dimensions of landscapes, are a key point of departure and substantive focus for planning in rural contexts.

Classical economics traditionally identifies land as a key capital stock, as a productive resource with value, for example for agriculture, mineral extraction or for absorbing waste (Chenoweth et al, 2018).

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Stories from the Global Countryside

Rural Places and Planning provides a compact analysis for students and early-career practitioners of the critical connections between place capitals and the broader ideas and practices of planning, seeded within rural communities. It looks across twelve international cases, examining the values that guide the pursuit of the ‘good countryside’.

The book presents rural planning – rooted in imagination and reflecting key values – as being embedded in the life of particular places, dealing with critical challenges across housing, services, economy, natural systems, climate action and community wellbeing in ways that are integrated and recognise broader place-making needs. It introduces the breadth of the discipline, presenting examples of what planning means and what it can achieve in different rural places.

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The critical development in Bourdieu’s (1986) theory of capital was his conceptualisation of new and distinct forms of capital, transmutable with economic capital and associated with higher positions in social life and with social class. In essence, social and cultural capitals are rooted in economic capital, in wealth advantage, but are also convertible into economic capital – in many complex ways. As such, their presence and their form provide a means of understanding power structures across any social field. Specifically, social capital is (Bourdieu, 1986, p 21):

the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition – or in other words, to membership in a group – which provides each of its members with the backing of the collectively-owned capital, a ‘credential’ which entitles them to credit, in the various senses of the word.

While no single definition is given for cultural capital, Bourdieu theorises its different components as a way to explain the complex ways cultural capital is also infused into power structures (1986, p 17):

Cultural capital can exist in three forms: in the embodied state, i.e., in the form of long-lasting dispositions of the mind and body; in the objectified state, in the form of cultural goods (pictures, books, dictionaries, instruments, machines, etc.), which are the trace or realization of theories or critiques of these theories, problematics, etc.; and in the institutionalized state, a form of objectification which [for example educational qualifications] confers entirely original properties on the cultural capital which it is presumed to guarantee.

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Business and labour groups are better organised and exert greater influence at the international level than ever before. Cooperation and organisation beyond borders has increased, as has international lobbying. Some business and labour organisations operate independently and on the periphery of intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), trying to influence them from the outside. Others are institutionally embedded within the decision- and policy-making structures of IGOs. As the number and importance of IGOs has grown, so too have the number of formal and informal opportunities for engagement in global policy processes. Although business and labour organisations can find common ground between them on certain issues, they often pursue policies that are at odds with each other, especially when it comes to questions of economic and social regulation. This chapter examines all of these issues. The first section provides an overview of how major business and labour actors exercise power, and how they are represented in global social policy (GSP). The second section outlines the competing perspectives business and labour have on social policy. The third section examines some important global issues relevant to labour and business interests, including labour standards, corporate regulation and international taxation. The fourth section examines global governance and the responses of IGOs to business and labour positions.

As global frameworks and agreements on trade, regulations and social policies have become more important and, in some instances, more binding, so business and labour organisations have sought to shift their spheres of influence to the global and world-regional levels in addition to the national level to defend their interests.

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In contrast to the study of national welfare regimes, global social policy (GSP) studies have largely invisibilised gender. The same cannot be said for GSP as practice. ‘Gender equality and women’s empowerment’ has become an established (if still contested) global norm, with an institutional architecture dedicated to making gender inequalities visible and promoting policies to address these. Various United Nations (UN) agencies and other intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), together with transnational feminist networks (TFNs), have worked to gender understandings of global poverty and inequality, labour policy, health, social protection and migration.

This chapter outlines ways of thinking about how GSP, as a field of academic study and as political practice, incorporates a gender lens. It begins with an overview of the global institutional architecture developed to make visible the gender dimensions of GSP issues. UN agencies and UN treaty bodies like the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) play a critical role, but they do not work in isolation. Of critical importance are their links with feminist epistemic communities and TFNs. The second section looks at gender and labour policy, highlighting the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) standard-setting work. It shows that the ILO’s understanding has evolved, influenced by developments in the wider environment and the actions of TFNs.

Identification of women’s reproductive roles in the biological sense of women as bearers of children and in social reproduction understood as ‘the processes involved in maintaining and reproducing people … on a daily and generational basis’ (Bezanson and Luxton, 2006, p 3) contributes to the gendering of social policy practice.

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This chapter provides an overview of the institutions and actors that constitute the governance of global social policy (GSP). This process is referred to as global social governance, and involves a complex web of public and private actors which pursue their agendas over a multiplicity of jurisdictions and countries. The first section introduces key concepts necessary for an understanding of the intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), structures and actors via which the processes of global social governance take place. The following section introduces key IGOs, and demonstrates how they are organised according to different principles and have blurred and overlapping mandates and differential degrees of power. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank are briefly compared to illustrate these differences. The chapter then turns to world-regional social governance, and considers the range of sub-global (world-regional) IGOs and the challenges they both face and present for global social governance. Finally, the chapter looks at the future of global social governance and reflects on contemporary challenges to GSP.

Governance is a tricky concept, with a variety of definitions. It can be distinguished from government in that it concerns various means of regulating or organising some activity or entity that may involve governments but that are not limited to them. Governance is sometimes thought of as referring to the environment in which governments act. Fidler (2005, p 162) provides a concise definition of governance as ‘The process of governing, or of controlling, managing or regulating the affairs of some entity’. Note that this may include formal institutions that involve codified rules and norms as well as tacit or informal rules or norms.

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Increased awareness of, and alarm about, climate change gained momentum during the 1980s in tandem with the growth of green politics, political parties and policy agendas that emerged in the 1960s, which, among other things, conceptualised the world as a single ecosystem (Snell and Haq, 2013). While concerns about a changing climate were in part related to broader claims about the inherent value of the natural world, they were also increasingly related to a realisation about detrimental human impacts. As a policy problem, climate change is understood throughout the academic and policy community as being both global in scope and unprecedented in scale (UN, 2020). It is described by the United Nations (UN) as ‘the defining issue of our time’ (UN, 2020), with multiple risks to human life, including: ‘shifting weather patterns that threaten food production [and] rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding’ (UN, 2020). The most recent evidence on climate change from the fifth report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (IPCC, 2018a, pp 6–8) highlights current and future risks to human life, occurring globally, with ‘severe, pervasive, and irreversible’ impacts that will occur without ‘substantial and sustained’ policy action.

Given these issues, climate change has been characterised as a ‘wicked’ policy problem (Cahill, 2001) that is ‘truly complex and diabolical’ (Steffen, 2011, cited in Gough, 2011) and ‘big, global, long term, persistent and uncertain’ (Stern, 2007, p 25). While most nations agree in principle that there is a need for global collective action (cf UNFCCC, 2020a), beyond this, there is far less agreement of what sort of action is needed, with much controversy over the action each nation should be required to take.

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