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Policies in the Polder: How Institutions Mediate between Norms and Practices of Rural Governance

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Matching rural policy and practice has become increasingly difficult. Despite a shift from government to governance, a void is often perceived to exist between policy and practice. This article discusses two hypotheses on the emergence of such a void. The first argues that the void is a result of a process of value differentiation. The second explains the void as a result of a process of depoliticisation. This article examines whether these hypotheses hold true for Dutch rural policy. The analysis shows that though both hypotheses are true for a limited extent, neither succeeds in explaining the changes in Dutch (rural) policy on its own. Instead, it is argued that both are needed for a comprehensive analysis.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Rural Sociology Group, Wageningen UniversityHollandseweg 16707 KN, Wageningen, The Netherlandsand Department of Urban and Rural DevelopmentSwedish Agricultural UniversityUlls väg 28 A-B, SE-756 51Uppsala, Sweden, Email:

Publication date: October 1, 2006

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