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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2005

Conflicts about water: A case study of contest and power in Dutch rural policy

Boonstra W, Frouws J


The Dutch countryside forms the scene for pressing problems of management and allocation of land and water. These problems underscore the need for comprehensive rural policies. For that purpose, area-based rural policy has been initiated. This new policy is part of a larger policy shift, labelled in literature as 'new rural governance'. Area-based rural policy co-ordinates the different interests of stakeholders and establishes consensus-based solutions. In this article we question this claim. We analyse the conflicts, rationalities and interests within a Dutch rural planning project. This project displays a power struggle in which actors try to (de)construct legitimacy. This observation contrasts sharply with the consensual rationality on which area-based policies are founded. Therefore, we conclude that a tension exists between 'what should be done' and 'what is actually done' in Dutch rural policy. Area-based policy does not guarantee the establishment of consensus among rural stakeholders. Therefore, Dutch area-based policies need to be contextualised to purposefully address spatial rural problems. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

Published in

Journal of Rural Studies
2005, Volume: 21, number: 3, pages: 297-312

    SLU Authors

    • Boonstra, Wiebren

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

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Social Sciences
    Economics and Business

    Publication Identifiers


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