Integrated Rural Policy in Context: A Case Study on the Meaning of 'Integration' and the Politics of 'Sectoring'

P.H.M. Derkzen, B.B. Bock, J.S.C. Wiskerke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Partnerships for rural development are often presented as powerful ways of promoting 'integration'. This paper examines the reality of this claim, first by analysing what 'integration' means and then presenting a case study of a Dutch rural partnership that shows how 'integration' was diluted by the 'politics of sectoring'. In this case study, 'integration' was taken to mean harmonizing sectoral policies for the physical environment and to imply the integration of competing land-use claims. Representatives of different policy sectors sought to safeguard and advance their sectoral objectives through a number of strategies, including expanding conflicts to other playing fields and containing conflicts through private settlement. The interplay of these interests created a paradoxical outcome. The existing sectoral policies were maintained and 'integration' was achieved through the spatial separation of the most conflicting land uses, those of intensive husbandry farming and protecting nature. The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture sees such partnerships as a good example of 'integrated rural policy' but the example shows that the integration of existing sectoral policies for the physical environment has little to do with the achievement of wider socio-economic objectives
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-163
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • local-government
  • governance
  • partnerships
  • power
  • accountability
  • participation
  • exclusion
  • framework


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