This collection contains the Doctoral and Masters by Research theses produced within the department.
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A Critical Review of Rural Proofing in EnglandThis thesis critically reviews the effectiveness of rural proofing through a practitioner lens. It explores empirically the experiences and expectations of rural proofing in England by rural policy practitioners. The theoretical foundation for the research is provided by the rural-urban dichotomy and associated discourses, to include the notion of the rural idyll. An interpretivist methodological approach was adopted which included in-depth semi-structured interviews with 24 participants. The participants discussed their understandings of rural within the context of rural proofing and in turn how this influenced their expectations and experiences of rural proofing. Practitioner experiences and expectations considered the influence of rural proofing voices, leadership and accountability in rural proofing and where rural proofing does or should occur. From this, the analytical approach enabled the strengths and weaknesses of rural proofing to be examined to inform the future rural proofing agenda. It was found that rural proofing is a welcomed concept, but there are barriers and challenges impacting on the effectiveness of rural proofing. Overall, it was articulated that rural proofing, although a national policy process to consider the rural context in policy making, is in fact, interpreted as the delivery of rural services. Where the principle was providing equality of provision in comparison to levels of service in urban contexts. There was an appreciation rural proofing is process focussed but a strong sense that it should be more outcome driven, with a local focus. Currently, rural proofing is compulsory for English domestic policy, however, the championing of rural proofing and the leadership of rural proofing across government could be more apparent and the process more effective. It was suggested a greater local focus to rural proofing would assist with mitigating the challenges in the current national English policy framework which has to use a rural-urban settlement classification that does not embrace the diversity of rural England. An alternative approach to describing rural within policy making, could, alleviate some of the challenges in addressing the contested priorities of rural proofing resulting from many rural voices. Through the rural policy practitioner lens it is articulated rural proofing should not be abandoned, however, moving forward, rural proofing requires revision if the principles of rural proofing are to be realised in practice.