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International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology
International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology


Special Issue on: “Rural Change: Re-Valorisation of Property Objects and the Institutionalisation of (New) Property Rights”

Guest Editors: Marianne Penker, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU), Austria and Lutz Laschewski, University of Rostock, Germany

This special issue will address processes of institutionalisation in the context of fundamental social changes that currently can be observed globally. It will particularly draw upon the experiences in rural Europe, a context in which social scientists conceptualise current social dynamics as a shift from industrial to a post-industrial or knowledge society. A variety of economic, social and political processes has transformed social relations in the countryside (Marsden et al. 1993). The processes have effected massive changes not only in land use but also the economic, political and socio-cultural relations surrounding land.

One of the main causes of rural change is the transformation of agriculture and its relation to the countryside itself. The contribution of the agricultural sector to rural income and employment has been declining through recent decades (OECD 1998; Bryden and Bollmann 2000; Laschewski et al. 2002). Agricultural development has been increasingly separated from the overall rural economy and society (van der Ploeg 1990; Tovey 1998).

At the same time, the accelerating globalisation of agro-industrial corporations has reshaped the conditions for agriculture (Goodman and Redclift 1991; Watts 1996). Globalisation has changed the spatial order of agriculture (Bonanno and Bradley 1994). It has forced concentration tendencies of agricultural production in more favorable areas and marginalised producers in less favored areas, bringing about negative environmental externalities (European Commission 2000). New usages of nature and land emerge and processes of re-valorisation of rural property objects take place, which require the institutionalisation of new property rights and the redefinition and reshaping of former property rights.

The special issue draws on the general assumption that property offers a potent analytical framework to examine and compare contemporary processes of rural transformation and differentiation in Europe. Property research has been characterised by a separation into different research traditions, such as institutional economics, legal anthropology, law and sociology or political science. This issue, therefore, proposes a rather unique attempt to bridge the divide and to take advantage of the different research traditions for an innovative compilation of empirically founded papers on the revalorisation of property objects and the institutionalisation and redefinition of property rights in natural resource management, agriculture and rural land use.

Subject Coverage
Taking the above notions into account, areas covered by the special issue include but are not limited to:
Macro-scale social processes that go along with a re-valorisation of property objects with regard to rural resource uses such as:
  • globalisation, specialisation and concentration of production
  • the changing structures of rural societies, growing mobility, new consumption preferences and life styles affecting the rights and obligations surrounding land
  • changing obligations and rights to land and other rural resources as well as new intellectual property rights (GMOs, trade marks, labels of origin)
  • political-economic and cultural processes shaping the actual values of rural resources
Policy processes:
  • that create and shape formal property rights on rural resources
  • political struggles putting increasing strain on the regulatory regime facilitating land use changes
  • policies for post-industrial rural areas, their implementation and actual outcome in rural societies
Field research that focuses on:
  • changing (formal) property rights and non-legal forms of access to goods
  • actual entitlements and the broader role and strategies of public, private and intermediary actors in re-defining property rights
  • the various kinds of social actors recognised and legitimised to take part in property relationships
  • rural governance by horizontal market co-ordination, hierarchical state control or by hybrid property forms combining public control with private entitlements
Conceptual papers that discuss issue of re-valorisation of property rights from different theoretical backgrounds under different aspects such as:
  • ideological and normative aspects of property, such as notions of private ownership, economic efficiency, legitimacy, distributional justice and political participation
  • property relationships in cultural norms and social values, in laws and regulations, in actual social relationships, and in social practices
  • diverse property theories and concepts in economics, sociology, geography, political science and other disciplines

Notes for Prospective Authors

Submitted papers should not have been previously published nor be currently under consideration for publication elsewhere

All papers are refereed through a peer review process. A guide for authors, sample copies and other relevant information for submitting papers are available on the Author Guidelines page

Important Dates

Deadline for Submission: 30 April, 2007