International Journal of Agriculture Extension and Social Development
2021, Vol. 4, Issue 1, Part A
Conceptualizing rural development in the twenty-first century
Tadele Zemede Wubayehu
The need to more accurately conceptualize the concept of rural development has increased during recent decades. This is largely the result of the absence of universally accepted definition of rural development, the absence of universally accepted theories of rural development and the growing interest to clearly theorize it, the persistent increase of rural poverty in developing and the need to formulate effective rural development policies that could address poverty in rural areas, but also because of the multifaceted ways in which rural development could be realized. Thus, the main objective of this paper is to offer a new definition or concept of rural development in the twenty-first century. To achieve this objective the study purely used secondary data. Thus, both theoretical and empirical literature deemed necessary to better understand the concept of rural development was rigorously reviewed. The review result shows that there is no universally accepted definition of rural development. The existing definitions and concepts of rural development have some conceptual gaps that needed to be revisited and conceptualized again in twenty first century. As a result, the concept of rural development is widely recognized in the literature as a disputed notion both in practice, policy, and theory. Thus, this study approaches the task of conceptualizing rural development by providing a conceptual definition that serves both academics and practitioners. Moreover, the study also proposed different mechanisms through which rural development can be realized and interlinked with recent concepts of development. Generally, the study concludes that emphasizing the need to supplement the theory behind the new rural development hypothesis with new definitions that help us to more precisely understand what is meant by rural development and how it could be realized, this study offers a new definition of rural development as a necessary step in that direction.