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Conference paper2005

Changing Conditions for the Construction of Knowledge in Rural Development

Waldenström, Cecilia


In this paper the construction of knowledge in rural development is discussed drawing on theories of contextual didactics and mediated learning. Contextual didactics is a constructionist perspective on learning in which task-directedness, intentionality and the concept of affordances are central. Theories of mediated learning stem from the cultural-historic perspective on learning. Drawing on these theories and on a case study of 2 cooperative village development movements and 2 SMEs in peripheral parts of northernmost Sweden, the paper challenges the distinctions of 'expert' and 'lay' knowledge as useful in understanding rural development. It also emphasizes that rural development may be 'endogenous', but it does not take place in isolation. Instead, globalising processes concurrently transform local preconditions for economic, political and cultural development and the preconditions for construction of knowledge within development activities. The study was made in a region characterised by long distances, disadvantageous population structure, disadvantageous labour markets, low educational levels and lack of risk capital. Nevertheless, the cases point to the capacity of local actors to secure qualifications and competence, to create task-related platforms for individual and joint learning, and to continuously construct resources in collaboration with non-local actors. The village development leaders and the entrepreneurs were of local origin, and their activities locally embedded, yet their networking with actors from other societal institutions and other contexts, local, regional, national and international, was essential for their learning and in the development of activities. Collaboration with universities was part of this. The paper ends in a discussion of the changing conditions for the construction of knowledge in rural development. Rural areas are integrated in new kinds of economic, political and informational networks and flows. How rural actors handle these seems critical for local development and the local construction of knowledge

Published in


xx1 Congress European Society for Rural Sociology: A common European Countryside, change and contiuity, diversity and cohesion

      SLU Authors

    • Waldenström, Cecilia

      • Department of Rural Development and Agroecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Economics and Business
    Social Sciences

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