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Barboza Arias, L. M. (2021). Local capabilities for rural territorial development: A current debate. Cooperacion, 8(1), 9–27. https://doi.org/10.21500/23825014.5260
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The objective of this article is to identify elements of analysis, which will continue the critical discussion on the incorporation of the capacity-oriented approach into policies for the development of rural territories, and to broaden reflection on its effects on the daily life of local actors. Since the 1990s, this approach began to be used in policy instruments whose main focus was on development problems. An institutionalist perspective with a strong regulatory orientation was adopted, by linking social actors to the formation of instrumental productive skills without a timely problematization of the contexts and situated realities. Some recent theoretical debates on livelihood diversification, rural territorial development, and sustainable transitions allow us to rethink this issue. The theoretical-methodological strategy of the article is framed within the analytical method of social research. The ethnomethodological approach is used to rethink the role of the social actor in the configuration of reality. This methodological approach considers the centrality of meaning in the intersubjective understanding of social phenomena. In the final considerations, it is argued that the incorporation of actor-oriented perspectives can facilitate the study of a different set of phenomena and realities, which represents a way to overcome the analytical weaknesses identified so far. A renewed focus on rural capabilities should inform the design and formulation of public policies on novel forms of co-construction of knowledge, which allow traditional analytical categories to be problematized. Such policies must retain a certain degree of reflexivity and self-criticism in the design and formulation of their instruments and strategies so that the planned intervention to which they give rise does not end up instrumentalizing the rationality, which underlies them, or by restricting people's agency to build, in freedom, the type of life they value as worthy of living.

Keywords: Democracy; Human Development; Social Participation; Government Policy; and Rural Environment.


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