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New Rural Spaces: Towards Renewable Energies, Multifunctional Farming, and Sustainable Tourism.

  • The Institute of Geonics Czech Academy of Sciences and Palacky University Olomouc
  • James Hutton Institute / Czech Academy of Sciences

Abstract and Figures

The book focuses on three areas of development driving the significant structural and functional changes that have been appearing in and shaping rural spaces: development of renewable energy, multifunctional agriculture, and rural tourism. In the rural context these three phenomena are related and significantly influence each other – or better to say that they intersect, sometimes effectively cooperating and other times contesting with each other. Ranging from global to regional scale, this book covers rural studies from different types of regions, on one hand from regions in the United Kingdom where the rural change debate has a long tradition, on the other hand views from the Central-European perspective, where the above-mentioned processes have appeared much more recently. Different experiences with the issues can be noticed from the post-socialist countryside, other ones from Alpine villages. But in general, the story of all covered rural spaces is interwoven by a red line idea of efforts to improve their societal, economic, and environmental qualities.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Edited by
Bohumil FRANTÁL and Stanislav MARTINÁT
First published in 2013 by
Institute of Geonics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, v.v.i.
Department of Environmental Geography,
Drobného 28, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic
Copyright © Bohumil Frantál and Stanislav Martinát, 2013
Cover photo: Bohumil Frantál
ISBN 978-80-86407-38-8
Typeset in Cambria by Tomgeo Production Ltd, Brno
Printed and bound in the Czech Republic by Tiskservis Ostrava
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form
by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including
photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system without permission
in writing from the publishers.
National Library of the Czech Republic Cataloguing in Publication Data
New Rural Spaces : Towards Renewable Energies, Multifunctional Farming, and Sustainable Tourism
/ edited by Bohumil Frantál and Stanislav Martinát. -- 1
ed.. -- Brno : Institute of Geonics, 2013.
-- 157 pp. : il. ; 1 cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-80-86407-38-8 (pbk.: alk. paper)
* Social sciences – Geography
* Rural studies
* Renewable energy
* Rural tourism
/ Bohumil FRANTÁL, Stanislav MARTINÁT / 6
Magic of The Secret Garden?: Acknowledging More-than-Representational Rurality
/ Keith HALFACREE / 17
Phantoms, Publics and the Politics of En
gagement: Populating the Rural Renewable Energy
Landscape /
Gordon WALKER / 28
4 Distributed Generation of Sustainable Energy as a Common Pool Resource: Social Acceptance
Maarten WOLSINK / 36
5 Renewable Energy Technologies in European Landscapes from Myths to (Adaptive)
Management / Dan van der HORST / 48
6 Reassessing Agricultural Multifunctionality in the Context of Food Security, Climate Change
and the New Land Use Debate / Damian MAYE / 60
7 Overcoming Stereotypes and Turning Diversity into Strength: Implications for Rural Policy
in Europe / Thomas DAX / 72
 
Bohumil FRANTÁL, Stanislav MARTINÁT / 86
9 The Sustainability of Rural Tourism in a Post-Carbon World / C. Michael HALL / 100
10 Tourism and Leisure – Rural Spaces, Old and New / Gordon CLARK / 109
11 Selected Function-Space Aspects of Rural Tourism (Case of the Czech Republic)
/ / 119
RESUMÉ / 150
INDEX / 153
New challenges, conicts and opportunities for rural spaces
 
/ Bohumil FRANTÁL, Stanislav MARTINÁT / 6
#2 Magic of The Secret Garden?: Acknowledging More-than-Representational
Rurality / Keith HALFACREE / 17
1 Depopulation, demographic aging, deteriorating educational structure, and increasing unemployment have become some of
the typical features of a majority of rural areas
2 However, the widely developing sector of planting crops and plants for energy purposes can be also regarded as a productive
(but alternative) way of agriculture
Chapter 1
Bohumil FRANTÁL, Stanislav MARTINÁT
Rural areas have been undergoing dramatic, multidimensional changes as a consequence of
ongoing global trends and long-term socio-demographic, economic, and environmental processes
and related policy interventions. These changes have resulted in new land-use patterns and
structures. Even as concerns food production, the rural landscape is no longer just the dominion of
productive farming but is increasingly designed also around alternative agricultural and various new
industrial, commercial, tourism and leisure activities which have driven changes in rural identities
and lifestyles (see e.g. Carlin and Saupe, 1993; Halfacree and Boyle, 1998; Dax, 1999; Mahon, 2007;
Lampietti et al., 2009; Silva, Figueiredo, 2013). At the same time these changes and developments
often go hand in hand with 
Huber, 2004; De Groot, 2006; Learmonth et al., 2007). In this respect, the rural landscape has
become a point of contention and negotiation among different ways of seeing, various interests,
value judgments, ideologies, myths, narratives, and representations (Woods, 2007; Olwig, 2011).
This book focuses on three areas of 
changes that have been appearing in and shaping rural spaces: development of renewable energy,
multifunctional agriculture, and rural tourism. In the rural context these three phenomena are
              
effectively cooperating and other times contesting with each other.
Agriculture in its productive form is no longer a governing element of the economic system
in rural areas. The shift from the previous key paradigm of food production to post-productive
approaches which emphasize the necessity of rural economic    
oriented, multifunctional, effective yet environmentally friendly farming and landscape
stewardship; large investments in infrastructure and the implementation of renewable energy
projects; increased emphasis on exploiting natural and cultural heritage by means of rural tourism;
an increased awareness of the importance of a sustainable environment and the overall quality of
rural life; new waves of urban migrants coming to rural areas in search of alternative lifestyles or
a real or imagined “rural idyll” – all these and other related phenomena shape today's rural spaces
and form the subjects of investigation, analysis, and conceptualization within this book.
On the other hand we do not deny the importance of productive agriculture in this book
rather maintain that such activities should be located in rural areas with suitable soil quality where
the main task of the land could still be food production. The relevance of food production should not
of individual regions or countries. Strengthening of the importance of local or regional food is very
New challenges, conicts and opportunities for rural spaces
Figure 1.1: The interwoven phenomena of new rural spaces
Source: Authors´ conceptualization
important not only because of the importance of reducing transport costs, energy consumption,
and consequent emissions, but also in the context of building closer relations of local populations
to their regional foods.
To start, new rural spaces can be perceived and conceptualized as landscapes of new energies.
Energy landscape” is a term originally used in physics and biological chemistry but recently it has
energy landscape can
             
it has been applied in connection with wind energy development (Möller, 2009; Nadai and Van der
Horst, 2010; Pasqualetti, 2011; etc.), though it may be used in the context of all branches of energy
production with a surface expansion (Zerta et al., 2008).
The extraction, transportation, and utilization of energy resources have always been among
the most controversial areas of environmental policy and land use planning. Growing concerns
over global climate changes, future energy sustainability, and energy security have during the last
three decades led to increasing interest in developing domestically available, renewable energy
sources. The exploitation of renewable sources has become a global challenge (bigger than ever
in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident) that nevertheless still raises social
controversies at regional and local levels, and the rate of acceptance and implementation of projects
   
one country (Painuly, Reddy, 2004; Breukers, Wolsink, 2007a, 2007b; Brohmann et al., 2007; Toke
et al., 2008; Usha, Kishore, 2009; Frantál, Kunc, 2010; etc.).
On one hand, projects like wind farms, solar power plants, cultivation of energy crops and
biomass production, biogas stations (or anaerobic digestion plants), and other innovative
            
context of European Union) state-subsidized support for clean and sustainable energy, as well as
being objects of entrepreneurial interest among investors and developers, a potential source of
income for communities involved (often located in less-favoured, peripheral rural areas), and an
are considered intrusions (“visual pollution”) on the character of local landscapes, a degradation
of arable land, a potential threat to local tourism, and a privileged lobby business thought to be
unable to compete without subsidies (e.g. as seen during the boom in some European countries of
a speculative and unsustainable “solar business” driven by a combination of favourable legislation,
exceptionally high feed-in tariffs, and low technology costs – see e.g. Williams, 2010).
requiring substantial land resources in comparison to conventional energy sources. Moreover, they
are mostly undertaken in rural areas hitherto unaffected by large-scale industrial development.
The problem of balancing the advantages and disadvantages, both real and perceived, of projects
(taking into account such diverse considerations as, on one hand, global climate issues, the energy
strategies of national governments, regional development policies, and local  
landscape protection, calling for
a restoration of productive farming, and the preservation of local cultural identity) often provokes
political and 
Löfsted, 2004; Saint et al., 2009; Devine-Wright, 2011).
As renewable energy projects grow in frequency and scale, new forms of local opposition
have emerged, and coal and nuclear power plants are no longer the only energy facilities people
do not want built in their backyards. A common perception is that most 
inevitable result of two dissimilar or incompatible land use programs. In fact, the root cause of
    
values of the people living, working, or recreating in an area (cf. Learmonth et al., 2007). These
values may include feelings about the intrinsic value of the environment, protection of wildlife, the
right to use and enjoy land, personal and community health, personal responsibility, recognition
and protection of indigenous and non-indigenous cultural heritage etc. (ibid). In consequence, land
 
impacts (e.g. negative effects on individual quality of life, a breakdown in community cohesion,
additional demands on government services, increased demands on rural industries, degradation of
the environment, loss of local identity etc.). Thus exploring and managing 
they lead to negative impacts on communities should be desirable.
It is presumed that most          
technological improvements, economic appraisal, and expert landscape planning but that they
have more structural, contextual, political-institutional and social-psychological backgrounds, and
consequently local opposition to development projects cannot be explained just by simplistic NIMBY
theory but must rather be seen as a more complex, multidimensional, and socially-constructed
phenomenon (Wolsink, 1994, 2006; Van der Horst, 2007; Burningham et al., 2007; Devine-
Wright, 2009; Agterbosch et al., 2009; Sovacool, 2009; Aitken, 2010b; Pasqualetti, 2011; etc.).
From the perspective of governments, investors, developers and so far even of academic
researchers, renewable energy development is primarily about exploring barriers, surveying
public perceptions and attitudes (see e.g. Thayer, Freeman, 1987; Bosley, Bosley, 1988; Ek, 2005;
Warren et al., 2005; Wüstenhagen et al, 2007; Gross, 2007; Nadai, 2007; Eltham et al., 2008;
Zoellner et al., 2009; Graham et al., 2009; Musall, 2011; etc.), and developing models to create
social acceptance (Create Acceptance, 2007; Raven et al., 2009; Horbaty, 2010; etc.). But what really
concerns local communities in particular is the distribution of economic and environmental costs
New challenges, conicts and opportunities for rural spaces
 
Sustainability and reduction of carbon emissions 
Energy  decentralization, security and
 
of production, possible blackouts)
New jobs in the renewable energy sector (R&D,
manufacturing, spatial planning, etc.)
Labour exploitation and workplace safety (e.g.
handling toxic chemicals in solar cells), uncertainty
over facilities' after-service disposal
shareholders of projects
Increase in energy prices for end-users (as a result of
subsidies and tax allowances)
Agriculture  
energy crops, renting of land for wind or PV´s), processing
of agricultural waste (in AD plants) and use of digestate
(by-product) as a fertilizer to improve soil quality
Increase in food prices and food insecurity (as a result
of extensive cultivation of crops for energy production,
covering arable land by solar panels), and continuing
dependence of farmers on subsidies
Land revitalization
Land consumption
(using arable land or 
      
annual revenues from production, and/or other
indirect and induced effects)
Disruption within local communities (political and
Local employment during construction and operation
(maintenance, guard services, etc.)
 
transport of biomass to plants)
New image and local identity (using energy in
place branding, green image, wind turbines as new
landmarks, etc.)
Landscape disruption (visual pollution by wind
turbines, solar panels, land 
cultural heritage)
Educational potential (raising public awareness about
science, technology, environmental issues)
 
signal, radio, smell, etc.)
Tourism and recreation development (revenues
invested into new facilities, trails, info centres,
attracting tourists who like energy technologies)
Tourism and recreation decline (discouraging tourists
and second-home owners who dislike renewable
energy facilities)
New habitats for animal and plant species (grasslands
among solar panels, sheep grazing, mowing, growing
energy plants and trees, etc.)
Wildlife intrusion (fatality of birds and interference
with the habitats of some animals)
Local property value increase Local property value decrease
Table 1.1: The scale of impacts from renewable energy 
of agriculture and tourism
Source: Authors´ conceptualization
development. As Munday et al. (2011)
on the public perception of positives and negatives of projects rather than on the actual economic
impacts and income streams (what is actually not easy to determine since each energy technology
presents different trade-offs for recipient localities).
Saying that renewable energy represents a big opportunity for sustainable rural development
has become a popular policy narrative and also an attractive turn of phrase for developers looking
to stimulate local acceptance. However the extent to which intentions have turned into practice
is in many cases disputable. While the economic impacts of renewable energy at state levels (e.g.
in the number of new jobs in the sector, effects on the tax base, electricity produced, etc.) and the
(e.g. to farmers renting the land, project shareholders, etc.) may be evident and measurable, other
direct and indirect effects on local        
subject to debate (see e.g. Sastresa et al., 2010; Munday et al., 2011; Slattery et al., 2011). Moreover,
the questions are: how big the potential, perceived and real, capability and willingness of rural
communities to “plug-into” the complex, technical, and supra-local systems of energy development
governed by corporate actors and policy arrangements operating at broader spatial scales (Marvin,
Guy, 1997, 2001 op. cit. Munday, 2011; Walker, 2008; Rogers et al., 2008) is and how (and whether)
that potential can be regarded as more effective and economically sustainable than current, subsidy-
dependent agricultural systems.
Similar questions concern also the potential of agriculture and rural tourism to stimulate and
feed local development: what the capacity, not to mention the willingness, is of rural communities
to what extent these new functions and their spatial and environmental impacts are in accordance
with the restructured populations present in many areas, including new urban migrants, second-
home owners, and/or tourists who come to rural areas to search for alternative lifestyles and/or
for an imagined “rural idyll(see e.g. Green et al., 1996; Halfacree, 1998; Smith, Krannich, 2000;
Smith, 2000; Clendenning et al., 2005; Ellingson et al., 2009; Scott et al., 2010).
While several years ago the countryside was primarily linked to productive farming, nowadays
food production as the main paradigm of agricultural
activities has been reshaped by post-productivist approaches (Ilbery, Bowler, 1998; Wilson, 2001;
Beesley et al., 2003) and multifunctional strategies for farming. The post-productivist approaches
European Union’s Common
Agricultural Policy (CAP), the basic feature of which is a shift from the support of overproduction
towards market-oriented, effective, environmentally friendly, and sustainable farming (European
Commission, 2004).
Accordingly, there should have appeared a dramatic shift in the identity
of farmers away from that of food producers towards a role and identity of farmers as rural
entrepreneurs (Vesala and Vesala, 2010) who are ready and able to diversify beyond primary
agricultural production into business activities such as direct marketing, tourism, and other services
(such as energy provision). The question is to what extent political narratives of the new role of
farmers as competitive entrepreneurs accord with the farmers' own perception of themselves and
with their actual practices (see e.g. Gorton et al., 2008).
Recent studies across Europe (Loureiro, Jervell, 2005; Bowler et al., 2006; Jensen et al., 2007;
Jongeneel et al., 2008; Maye et al., 2009; Yang et al., 2010; Paulrud, Laitila, 2010, etc.) have proved that
in addition to economic and legislative barriers to the development of multifunctional agriculture,
an essential role is also played by the attitudes of individual farmers towards measures taken, and
by their willingness and ability to react to changes, adopt innovations, and to compete and stand
against pressures of global and multinational producers and retailers.
3 The upcoming reform of the CAP which is under discussions by the European Commission deals with seven major challenges
to be addressed: food production, globalisation, the environment, economic issues, territorial approach, diversity, and
New challenges, conicts and opportunities for rural spaces
Another issue that needs to be considered is that of the unintended consequences of
agricultural restructuring,      food production to often more
economically effective and stable (thanks to long-term guaranteed purchase prices) activities
in the form of energy production. These negative unintended consequences include for instance
the global increase in food prices and problems of food insecurity (as a result of growing crops
for energy uses), land consumption (the covering of large areas of quality arable land with
photovoltaic panels), and changes in the character of local landscapes (high concentrations of
wind turbines or solar panels, or “landscape ” due to the widespread cultivation of
rapeseed for oil).
Potential negative impacts from landscape changes (or so called “visual pollutionof a landscape)
on (rural) tourism, caused by renewable energy development (or development in general,
including industry, the extension of communication and transport infrastructure, or the building
of larger-scale agricultural production facilities), prevail as the main arguments of the opponents
of “locally unwanted land uses”. However, empirical studies from many countries have shown that,
for example, the construction of wind turbines (as the most diffused and visible renewable energy
technology) in suitably selected locations may have only a minor or negligible negative impact on
tourists´ perceptions and experience of a landscape and on their choice of destination (Hauer, 2003;
BWEA, 2006; Frantál, Kunc, 2011). To the contrary, sensitive implementation of renewable energy
technologies can contribute to sustainable tourism development and can be used as a proper
marketing or place branding tool (Dalton et al., 2008; Michalena, Tripanagnostopoulos, 2010; Lee
et al., 2010)
The utilization of natural and cultural-historical heritage through rural tourism is emphasized in
academic debates and in many national and regional strategic documents as one of the potentially
strongest economic functions of today's rural areas (Williams, Shaw, 1991; Dernoi, 1991; Bramwell,
Lane, 1994; Sharpley, Sharpley, 1997; Roberts, Hall, 2001; Hall et al., 2003; etc.). Generally speaking,
that in mountainous areas, seashores, or towns): its intensity is considerably lower and the offer of
attractions and activities is quite distinct, following more dispersive spatial patterns of spreading,
and being of rather smaller scale than those “strong” forms of tourism and recreation. Rural tourism
is related to rural areas, however not every kind of tourist activity taking place in rural areas can
be considered strictly “rural”. According to Lane (1994, op. cit. Fotiadis, 2009), any activity that is
not an integral part of the “rural fabric” and does not employ local resources cannot be considered
to be rural tourism. Rural tourism is regarded as a sustainable approach to the landscape and the
   
economic situation of local communities. In this sense, rural tourism is closely linked with family
farming, local landscape planning, and natural and cultural protection.
Nevertheless, tourism development can also affect rural tourist destinations negatively in many
ways, inducing environmental and economic problems such as pollution, threats to biodiversity,
        development, increases in housing
prices and public service costs, and also such negative socio-cultural changes as the import of new
cultural ideas and the imitation of foreign models by the local population, commercialization of
human relationships, and waves of "" as a result of the   rural
authenticity” and rural myths and rituals (see e.g. Cohen, 1988; Perkins, 2006).
Moreover, while politicians and local communities are sometimes uncritically enthusiastic
about the prospects for encouraging tourism to stimulate local and regional development in less-
favoured areas, there are also growing concerns about the effectiveness and sustainability of such
policy developments given the twin challenges of environmental change and growing energy
costs (see the chapter by C. Michael Hall presented in this book). Unsystematic governmental
stimulations of rural tourism can also result in ineffective competitiveness of neighbouring
  
tourism on given communities.
When designing this publication, the editors have been inspired by some books and volumes
on rural spaces that were released during the last decade (e.g. Beesley et al., 2003; Brouwer, 2004,
Hall et al., 2005, Wilson, 2007, Lampietti et al., 2009, Woods, 2009b, Hedberg, do Carmo, 2012),
and of course by many journal papers. A majority of works published so far have remained just
 rural areas (i.e.
on agricultural restructuring, renewable energy development, sustainable tourism, or rural
development), and/or empirically examining just a selected country or a region. The original idea
behind this book was to approach a representative sample of geographers and rural sociologists
in order to analyze and discuss the trends and dynamic processes occurring within rural spaces
in their wider complexity, spatial scale, and interrelationships, trying to present a balanced
  
contexts of rural areas.
In the following Chapter 2, Keith Halfacree argues the case for adopting a more-than-
representational appreciation of “rurality” within the emerging new rural spaces. His essay
has two main sections. First, a theoretical case is made for understanding rurality more-than-
Figure 1.2: Wind farm in Nová Ves v Horách, Northern Bohemia, Czech-German borderland
Source: B. Frantál
New challenges, conicts and opportunities for rural spaces
representationally. Over the last 25 years, in the wake of the “cultural turn”, rurality has come to
be understood as highly representational. However, recent critiques have suggested how such an
appreciation, although having shown itself to be highly informative, has rather lost the “earthy”
material sensations that are key elements within any rural experience. Such a critique has been
reinforced by non-representational theory, especially by its promotion of the importance of
affect within everyday life. Thus, accepting the importance of both representational and non-
representational rurality, the chapter promotes the integrative and synergistic concept of a more-
than-representational rurality. The value of adopting such an appreciation of rurality is illustrated
in the second section of the chapter through exploration of the articulation of rurality within
    Horrid Henry’s Hike
and “The Secret Garden”). The conclusion, therefore, calls for the non-representational rural to be
 
diverse consumption domains of the new rural spaces.
The next three chapters deal with processes and actors of the renewable energy implementation.
Whereas the current energy development can be regarded as a process of socio-technical
innovation, it is necessary to put emphasis not just on the technological and economical aspects
but also on a socially oriented research which is to focus on such issues as the social construction
of risk perceptions and oppositional behaviour, environmental injustice related to location of
of energy projects, their impacts on local identities and quality of life, etc. Renewable energy
pathways, in all their diversity and distribution, involve engagement with and by publics as never
before. The rural energy landscapes are populated in multiple ways from the captive consumers, to
the active community participants, to the micro-generators and the local protestors.
In Chapter 3, drawing on various metaphors of the “phantom”, Gordon Walker lays out the
evolving nature of relations between “publics” and renewable energy technologies and the ways
in which “publics” of various forms are coming into being, how they are imagined and anticipated
                
technological change. Evidence is drawn from a number of recent projects to move towards a
more sophisticated understanding of the questions of social consent, involvement and exclusion
that are at stake.
The social acceptance has already become a commonly used term in the practical policy
literature, however the elaboration of the concept of social acceptance in the context of renewable
energy development so far drew mainly on research into wind power as the most matured and
most extensive (in sense of the installed capacity and spatial scale) energy sector. In Chapter 4,
Maarten Wolsink examines the social acceptance of renewable energies within the context of a new
emerging kind of power supply, in which distributed generation of renewable generating units is
combined with the development of a "smart grid".
he factors that have turned out to be crucial for social acceptance, all institutional by nature
rather than matters of public opinion, are evaluated and translated to solar power (PV), on-land wind
power, organic agricultural waste and biomass fuelled CHP, in which distributed generation is locally
and regionally attuned with electricity demand in local micro-grids. Such a system of community
energy requires a form of governance of local smart micro-grids with a combination of consumption
and small-scale generation close to the consumers and by the consumer ("prosumer") that can be
viewed as a common pool resource (CPR). The management of the natural resource of renewable
energies shows similarities to the management of common pool resources. Hence, the knowledge
acceptance of renewable energies.
Generally, any new 
different stakeholders and publics being directly and indirectly involved in the energy development,
and arguments used by supporters and opponents of renewable energy developments, whereby
often “facts” are presented when in reality the science is more subtle, complex, patchy or altogether
lacking. In Chapter 5, Dan Van der Horst draws attention to some of the myths which are created in
this politicized debate. Whilst there are many interesting empirical studies appearing on energy-
landscape issues, he attempts to make a novel contribution to the debate by drawing on two
pastoralism is used to picture the land as unspoiled, and second, the
theory of complex-adaptive systems is used to indicate the nature of the processes by which such
problems can be overcome. Paraphrasing Gordon Walker, he proposes that individual renewable
energy developments should be seen as “on-going landscape experiments” and the management
of these experiments needs to be both adaptive and collaborative in order to facilitate an inclusive
process of learning-by-doing for all parties involved.
Agricultural   
of European rural development policy and academic writing in agri-food studies. In Chapter 6,
Damian Maye argues that some of this logic may need to be re-thought in light of recent debates
about food security, climate change and land use, with growing interest, some quarters at least,
back towards productivism. The current food 
ways to produce food that is less energy dependent, which some suggest may signal the start of
a “neo-productivist phase” of agricultural restructuring. The chapter reviews recent papers on
multifunctionality and then outlines why we now appear to have a global food security crisis and
emergent debates about what land is for. It ends by considering what this new food security and
land use context, and its inherent productivism, might mean (as both opportunity and challenge)
for agricultural multifunctionality as a concept.
In Chapter 7, Thomas Dax suggests overcoming prevailing stereotypes of referring about rural
areas simply as “less-favoured” or “backward”, and he proposes to perceive and understand them as
areas with important opportunities and new perspectives and to “turn diversity into strength”. He
illustrates this approach by the case of the ESPON EDORA (European Development Opportunities
in Rural Areas) project which has elaborated a suite of three “Meta-Narratives” of rural change:
an Agri-Centric narrative, an Urban-Rural narrative, and a narrative of Globalisation and Capitalist
Penetration. In the author´s words, these overarching interpretations of social and economic changes
have not resulted in increasing uniformity; rather, they have played a decisive role in the increasing
differentiation of 
that highlights the various dimensions of territorial development: its rurality/accessibility, its
economic structure, and the level of economic performance. This serves as a framework for analysis
of policy application which is currently characterized by sector programmes of Rural Development
Policy and Regional Policy. The concluding recommendations for policy reform underpin the need
to match interventions with regional needs and to extend the policy framework, particularly by
addressing both tangible and non-tangible assets of the rural regions.
With ongoing structural changes in the agricultural sector it is also necessary to identify
drivers and barriers to the rural      post-socialistic or
transitional economies. In Chapter 8, Bohumil Frantál and Stanislav Martinát explore to what
extent the political narratives concerning the role of farmers as competitive entrepreneurs
willing to diversify their activities towards multifunctional agriculture are in accord with the
perspectives of farmers from a post-socialistic country where the agriculture was a privileged
and oversized branch during the socialistic period of centrally planned economy. They surveyed
New challenges, conicts and opportunities for rural spaces
the attitudes of Czech private farmers and representatives of agricultural companies towards
the current agricultural policy and market environment, perceptions of their own position in
terms of competitiveness, 
European Union countries.
          development for rural areas. This
has occurred because of changes in consumer tastes, accessibility and the way in which economic
value is derived from rural areas. Although this is sometimes seen as part of the processes of the
development of a post-productivist countryside and ex-urbanisation it is perhaps better understood
as something that is only applicable to areas in which economic value cannot be maximised via
modern agricultural and industrial practices. In many cases they would be regarded as economically
marginal or peripheral regions. However, while governments, and often many communities, are
enthused about the prospects of encouraging tourism as a means of responding to economic
restructuring there are also growing concerns about the sustainability of such policy developments
given the twin challenges of environmental change and the growing costs of energy. C. Michael Hall
discusses in the Chapter 9 some of the relationships between the way in which the sustainability
of rural tourism is understood and the capacities of rural areas to respond to change. The three
main issues he focuses on are (i) the centrality of accessibility to the success of rural tourism and
how rural tourism is best understood, (ii) the different ways in which sustainable rural tourism is
conceptualised and its implications for tourism policies, and (iii) the need for there to be far greater
attention in rural policy making to the transition of rural areas in a post-carbon world and the
implications that this will have for tourism as well as rural communities.
Generally, tourism is considered a free-market sector, dynamic and competitive, being strongly
driven by consumers’ preferences and demands it is a model of what neo-liberals see as the
desirable future for the agriculture and energy sectors. Yet, like agriculture and energy, it is a sector
which generates controversy at every turn: congestion, cultural dislocation, low wages, seasonality
and environmental degradation. Resilience in the face of changes in legislation, demography and
fashion is a longstanding feature of rural tourism, and its biggest challenge is how to minimise its
     
Clark considers these controversies. He argues the issues of perception and representation are
particularly important in understanding tourism and leisure and these can be the causes of both
stability and vulnerability, depending greatly on the local context.To illustrate these arguments he
presents a case study of rural tourism from the English Lake District.
In the last Chapter, Josef Kunc and colleagues analyse and assess current conditions and potential
for development of rural tourism on an example of the Czech Republic – a relatively small-scale,
Central European country which area includes neither seashore nor alpine terrain (unlike European
tourism leaders, such as Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Croatia, France or Italy), and is therefore an
example of a country where the prerequisites for tourism and leisure lie within various types of
rural countryside and where the diversity of the landscape is also determined by its historical and
data sources and methodology) the types of rural landscape according to tourism attractiveness;
the spatial mosaic of rural tourism comprises municipalities, geographical units and regions, in
terms of their functions characterised by distinctive quantitative and qualitative features. Finally,
wine tourism and farm tourism are discussed in detail as two types of rural tourism recently gaining
the largest increase in popularity.
Ranging from global to regional scale, this book covers rural studies from different types of
regions, on one hand from regions in the United Kingdom where the rural change debate has a
long tradition, on the other hand views from the Central-European perspective, where the above-
mentioned processes have appeared much more recently. Different experiences with the issues can
be noticed from the post-socialist countryside, other ones from Alpine villages. But in general, the
story of all covered rural spaces is interwoven by a red line idea of efforts to improve their societal,
economic, and environmental qualities.
We realize that new deliberative, interdisciplinary, and integrated approaches to managing the
required transformation processes – towards new and sustainable rural spaces with a symbiotic
coexistence of renewable energy development, multifunctional farming, and rural tourism are
needed to create a vision for change across the different constituencies, stakeholder groups, and
sectoral and administrative boundaries which constitute the scope of landscape planning and
decision making processes and land use policy. And we hope this book will help to extend the
knowledge base about the nature, scale, and dynamics of these processes.
Magic of The Secret Garden?: acknowledging more-than-representational rurality
1Handsome Devil, The Smiths, 1983.
Chapter 2
"I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all"
(Both Sides, Now, Joni Mitchell, 1967)
Academic understanding of rurality has been much like the appreciation of clouds in Joni
Mitchell’s song. In spite of considerable informative investigation, our "illusions" of rurality –
representations have now come to stand in the way of gaining more direct experiential appreciation
ontological status of rurality continues to feature strongly within rural scholarship (Cloke, 2006a;
Halfacree, 2012; Woods, 2009). This is in spite of an equally long tradition of "morbid thoughts"
(Bell et al., 2010: 208) that repeatedly write off   
Presently, a key critical skirmish within this debate revolves around the now widely recognized idea
of rurality as representation, whose brief predominance within scholarship has increasingly been
challenged by the assertions of non-representational theory.
The rest of the chapter is structured as follows. An opening section establishes the conceptual
             
representation that came to dominate academic discourse from the 1980s. Second, attention is
turned to how this representational hegemony is being challenged by the rise in interest in the
non-representational. Third, representational and non-representational need not be regarded
as mutually exclusive alternatives. Instead, it is argued they are coexistent and closely entangled,
expressed through the chapter’s key concept of the more-than-representational. The second major
section illustrates the value of exploring this more-than-representational concept within a noted
different eras is considered in detail. The chapter concludes by summing up and reiterating the
value of adopting a more-than-representational perspective on the rural spaces taking shape
across the world.
Representational rurality
Songwriter Steven Morrissey once wrote how "there’s more to life than books, you know, but
not much more",
a sense that encapsulates well how rurality came to be understood within
social science from the late 1980s. Thus, in the Handbook of Rural Studies (Cloke et al., 2006),
Paul Cloke (2006a) drew critical attention to the social construction perspective, a perspective
even paradigm – informed strongly by social science’s late 20
century "cultural turn" (Philo, 2000).
It seeks to articulate "the fascinating world of social, cultural and moral values which have become
associated with rurality, rural spaces and rural life" (Cloke, 2006a: 21, my emphasis). In summary,
rurality is regarded primarily as representation, a de-materialised and relatively distinctive and
cultural discourse (terms, meanings, practices) or set of discourses circulating within daily
life (Halfacree, 1993; Jones, 1995).
The eagerness with which rural scholarship embraced rurality as representation is well
illustrated, for example, within key UK focused edited collections such as Cloke and Little (1997),
Milbourne (1997), Cloke (2003a) and Cloke et al. (2006). This can be explained from a number of
Urry, 2000). Second, there remains much work to be done outlining and critiquing various commonly
circulating representations, such as the widespread historical and geographical ubiquity of "rural
idylls" (Bell, 2006; Bunce, 2003; Short, 2006) and their projection of selective rural imaginations.
Third, this very strong popular cultural resilience of rurality (and synonymous representations
such as "countryside") as everyday, even mundane, "lay discourses" (Sayer, 1989) has material
geographical and socio-political consequences. People act on or through representations of rurality
in daily life and the rural world is partly (re-)produced thus (Halfacree, 2006).
Rural leisure and tourism practices provide numerous illustrations of how rural representations
help to (re-)produce distinctive rural spaces. Crouch (2006: 357) notes the representational
importance of rurality as "landscape, peace, nature and quiet playground" since at least the 18
century Picturesque Grand Tour tradition and the "discovery" of the rural as a key leisure site.
However, as he also observes, rural representations have not just inspired leisure and tourism
practices but result in rural places (re-)constructed according to their image through the often
complex entwined actions and expectations of tourism providers, local residents and consumers.
rurality, whereby "a new social (and spatial) contract
[is imprinted] on an existing village" (Bell, 2006: 152). As just one example, the settlement of
Cavendish on Prince Edward Island in Canada, "Avonlea" in L.M. Montgomery’s 1908 novel Anne of
Green Gables, is highly managed for heritage tourism (Fawcett and Cormack, 2001; Squire, 1992).
It has been reconstructed in the style of the imagined Edwardian idyll, including materializing
not disappointing expectant visitors.
Non-representational rurality
In a review of recent rural geographical work, Mike Woods (2009: 850) observed "the creeping
     rurality". A key
reason for this, Woods argued, has been renewed desire to re-materialize rurality. Indeed, one of a
cultural turn (Cloke, 2006a) is how it is perceived to dematerialize
social life, neglecting "more thingy, bump-into-able, stubbornly there-in-the-world kinds of matter"
(Philo, 2000: 13). There is a need to stir ourselves from the "armchair countryside" (Bunce, 1994: 37)
of rural as representation, "treated as i) mere discursive construct…; ii) product… of a mind devoid
of corporeality" (Carolan, 2008: 408), and "get our hands dirty" by engaging directly with the earthy
material rural of soil, rocks, water, animals, plants, insects, weather, temperature, and so on.
Such desire to refocus on what it is like existentially and sensuously to be "in" the rural does
 
increasing interest in non-representational theory. This wide-ranging body of theory (Anderson and
Magic of The Secret Garden?: acknowledging more-than-representational rurality
Harrison, 2010a; Thrift, 2008) – albeit with clear historical provenance – emerged in part in response
to social constructivism’s "preoccupation with representation [which divided] the world and its
meanings" (Anderson and Harrison, 2010b: 4, 6). It builds on principles such as emphasising action
over contemplation, being entangled in the world rather than standing aloof (Ingold, 2008), and
"thought… placed in action and action… placed in the world" (Anderson and Harrison, 2010b: 11).
Within non-representational theory, a core concept is affect. Although there is disagreement over
its exact meaning (Pile, 2010), affect broadly refers to the feelings, emotions and actions brought
about through bodily engagement with the materiality of the world (Blackman and Venn, 2010).
Taking affect seriously in the context of rurality requires direct attention to be paid not just to
viewing it – a distanced representational perspective – but to full rural experience(s). The rural’s
own forces, often uneven, often confusing and unruly, require taking seriously – including agencies
of non-humans, from other animals (Jones, 2003) and plants (Jones and Cloke, 2002) to inanimate
objects and physical forces (Ingold, 2008). Rurality becomes recognized as a hybrid co-construction
of humans and non-humans (Cloke, 2006a; Jones, 2006; Murdoch, 2003) and also something that
may not be fully cognitively expressible (Pile, 2010).
raise. Whilst three of these concern consequences for an individual, acknowledging how "the body
in its own terms, affect being seen as not inherently subjective or personal (Pile, 2010).
Any sustained engagement with the questions raised in Figure 2.1 will bump up quite quickly
against the strong association rurality has with extra-human nature and sensual manifestations of
the physical world. It might even be said that this ‘nature of rurality’ holds the key to its affective
power (Halfacree, 2012), adding affective ‘push’ to predominantly representational rural "culture".
The "nature" of soil, rocks, water, animals, plants, insects, weather, temperature, even supernatural
forces – "the mystery, spirituality and ghostliness of rural places" (Cloke, 2003b: 6) – shapes direct
human bodily encounters with rurality. The vitality of this association will be illustrated later.
Figure 2.1: Affective resonances of a rural place
More-than-representational rurality
Appreciating a non-representational perspective conceptually resurrects the lively
affective aspect of a "natural" rurality conceptually killed through overconcentration on "dead"
(Carolan, 2009: 1) representational rurality. However, although the representational does not feature
terminologically in Figure 6.1, this is certainly not to suggest it is unimportant. Fundamentally,
non-representational theory does not deny the importance of representations within everyday life
(Lorimer, 2005; Thrift, 2008). It is not productive to set up representation and non-representational
in binary opposition but to give adequate attention to both.
The relationships between representational and non-representational are subject to complex
considerations in the literature, expressed, for example, in how "affectual geography views the
psychological subject with enduring suspicion" (Pile, 2010: 12). It can be approached in stages. First,
there seems to be recursive connection between the body and everyday living: bodies "make" life, life
"makes" bodies (Ingold, 2008). Second, embodied representations and affects are both expressed
practically through everyday living (Simonsen, 2010) and everyday living in turn engenders both
representations and affects. Third, in terms of links between embodied representations and affects
the detail remains unclear. However, unlike extreme anti-psychological interpretations whereby
"affects are always already ungraspable and unrepresentable by thought", a more "emotional
geography" line is taken here, with "thoughts and affects… entangled in complex and devious ways"
(Pile, 2010: 12). The suggestion is that the summative and expressive potential of representations
for capturing life is often strong but also more-or-less partial: "it is not that we cannot represent
sensuous, corporeal, lived experience but that the moment we do so we immediately lose something.
Representations tell only part of the story" (Carolan, 2008: 412).
In summary, it is concluded from this section that rurality should not be seen as either
predominantly representational nor as predominantly non-representational but as embracing
both through the notion of the more-than-representational (Lorimer, 2005). There is more to life
than books, and sometimes there is much more. Furthermore, there is an implication of synergy
within such an expression: moving away from either/or to embrace both really does give "more".
Instead of cataloguing, on the one hand, the representational rural and, on the other hand, the non-
Rurality in popular culture
Most recent model-led scenarios and other ways of imagining the emerging shape of the new
rural spaces across the Global North stress the ever-increasing importance of the rural as evolving
consumption space(s) (Halfacree, 2006). However, as any social construction paradigm would
imply, rural consumption to date has been largely explored through representational eyes – albeit
Within the high consumption prominence of contemporary rurality considerable importance
must be attached to the place of rurality within popular culture (Laing, 1992). This importance
 
visual arts and songs, indicated in Table 2.1. The content and role played by these artefacts and the
representations expressed therein is well acknowledged by researchers, including the link between
them and consumption practices, such as the leisure and tourism noted earlier (Crouch, 2006) or
residential migration to rural areas (Halfacree and Rivera, 2012).
Magic of The Secret Garden?: acknowledging more-than-representational rurality
However, when the rural content of these representational media are explored they may also be
seen to express aspects of the non-representational, notwithstanding the uncertain ability of the
representational to express or "re-present" (Pile, 2010: 17) the non-representational, as already
noted. Albeit attenuated, these representational media speak of direct and affectual experiences
of rurality.
Appreciating such a more-than-representational rural within popular cultural expressions will
be illustrated through the medium of children’s literature. On the one hand, this is a prime site
for (re)production of idyllic ruralities (Horton, 2003 and 2008a; Jones, 1997) and establishing
or reinforcing dominant discourses generally (Inglis, 1981). On the other hand, there is also to
be found a more subversive dimension within the numerous "country visions in circulation"
adult-ordered) spaces that "offer children an opportunity to unleash potential to become themselves,
or to become other than their normal regulated selves" (Cloke, 2006b: 452; Jones, 1997). In addition,
seen as bringing not only joy
and entertainment, but also physical and spiritual health" (Jones, 1997: 163) and as articulating a
challenge to any ultimate representational dominance.
Horrid Henry’s Hike
    
  Horrid Henry book was published in 1994) and largely
urban-focused. Moreover, the rural as a site of joy and entertainment is not immediately apparent
for the main protagonist in Horrid Henry’s Hike (Simon, 2008), one of the numerous entertaining
exploits of around ten year old Henry, the highly successful creation of naturalised British writer
Francesca Simon (2011).
Horrid Henry’s Hike begins with Henry’s fervent rejection of his parents’ desire to have an
energetic day out walking in the countryside. In contrast, brother ‘Perfect’ Peter is all in favour of
such a plan – as ever in the stories, the younger but more "adult" sibling sides with the parents. What
actually transpires, however, expresses well a non-representationally based "excessive" (childish)
subversion of the polite, normative representational (adultish) intended narrative.
Arriving by car at the start of their rural day out, a stereotypically represented rural idyll and
normative leisure activities, such as disciplined walking and gazing at the view, seemingly await.
This is expressed resentfully by Henry as follows:
Table 2.1: Exploring the representational rural within cultural products
Cultural product Examples
Magazines & newspapers Baylina & Berg (2010); Woods (2010)
Popular music Halfacree (2009); Yarwood & Charlton (2009)
 Horton (2008a); Phillips, Fish & Agg (2001)
Landscape Daniels (1993); Matless (1998)
Advertisements Brandth (1995); Law (1997)
Toys Houlton & Short (1995); Horton (2008b)
Horrid Henry looked around him. There was a gate, leading to endless meadows bordered by hedgerows. A muddy path
“Right, I've seen the countryside, let's go home,” said Henry.
Mum glared at him.
“What?” said Henry, scowling.
“Let’s enjoy this lovely day,” said Dad, sighing.
“So what do we do now?” said Henry.
“Walk,” said Dad.
“Where?” said Henry.
“Just walk,” said Mum, “and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Henry groaned.
(Simon 2008: 9).
Consuming this stereotypically represented scene, however, involves Henry getting out of
his literal and (after Bunce, 1994: 37) metaphorical urban "armchair" and having direct rural
engagement. Here, things get, quite literally, increasingly messy and unexpected.
As the walk develops, the representational idyll is soon eroded and displaced by more immediate
and earthy rural affects and their consequences. These include:
ƛThe smell of manure, which Henry deploys to tease Peter that he smells bad;
ƛFeet getting stuck in the mud, making Henry tired but leading on to them all getting muddy,
Dad stung by nettles, and all of them experiencing fear when chased by a bull;
ƛPeter’s "idyllic" feeding of ducks in a small pond being supplanted by all four people
eventually ending up fully clothed in the cold water… which hastens Henry’s desired return
home to enable him to watch television.
Overall, therefore, what is not anticipated representationally is invigorated through the (anti-)
hero Henry for entertaining, subversive and ultimately practice changing purposes. The affective
rural may not have been positively appreciated by Henry but it allows him ultimately to gain the
“I think the park next time,” mumbled Dad, sneezing.
“Oh, I don’t know,” said Horrid Henry happily. “A little water never hurt anyone.
(Simon 2008: 19).
And such a result is, of course, exactly what young fans of Horrid Henry wish to see!
The Secret Garden
Horrid Henry’s Hike contains little in practice of the countryside as a site of health and healing –
quite the opposite in the colds it gives to Henry’s parents – and is not ultimately a celebration of the
rural. However, a second example of rural children’s literature – this time a "classic" – brings this
aspect out very strongly (Jones, 1997; McKay, 2011) through its focus on the strong associational
link between rural and nature. This full-length book is Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden,
(for example, Burnett, 2007).
The Secret Garden tells the story of Mary Lennox, recently orphaned by her parents’ death from
cholera, who returns from colonial India to England to live with her widowed uncle in his isolated
large house, Misslethwaite Manor, located on the wild northern moors of Yorkshire. Exploring the
house and its grounds, ten year old Mary not only happens upon her sickly and bedridden cousin
Magic of The Secret Garden?: acknowledging more-than-representational rurality
Colin but also the eponymous garden. This is a walled garden, commonplace in such large houses’
grounds at the time, but one that has been locked up by Mary’s uncle and largely forgotten since the
accidental death of Colin’s mother there ten years earlier.
The garden comes to dominate the life of Mary in a story usually "read as a paen to nature…
[playing] up the nurturing, pastoral qualities of Romanticism… and the Romantic child"
(Wilkie, 1997: 73). At the beginning of the novel Mary is spoilt, abrasive, helpless, ignorant and self-
centred, far from any Romantic child of nature. However, she almost immediately starts to resist her
extensive grounds; with several, honest, plain-speaking locally-rooted servants; and, most of all,
with the secret garden, which she discovers and enters with the help of a robin, sees her become
increasingly mature, agreeable, considerate, relaxed and empowered.
Furthermore, following tales of the garden related to him by Mary, Colin (whom Mary locates
secluded in the house) visits the garden. With the help of local boy Dickon, "an agent of nature"
     
surrounded by wild animals (Burnett, 2007: 109), Colin consequently becomes increasingly mobile,
healthy and invigorated. He ends the book as ‘a laughable, lovable, healthy young human thing’
(Burnett, 2007: 315). In short, "The Secret Garden… recognises and celebrates the recuperative and
transformative potential [of] a green open-air space of nature" (McKay, 2011: 152).
The Secret Garden has been analysed widely from numerous perspectives but appears
increasingly read as a feminist discourse of a young woman’s empowerment and self-valuation
(for example, Wilkie, 1997; Parsons, 2002). Whilst not challenging this overall interpretation, there
seems to the present author a danger of gender essentialism and reductionism in, for example,
Parsons (2002) eliding the feminine with nature and then largely displacing the latter as a focus of
attention. Instead, attention can thus be given to the novel’s contrast between representational and
non-representational rural nature.
Colin is the locus of the representational. Whilst it seems clear (including to Mary) that he is not
primarily physically ill, his representation as such by his doctor, the house servants and, crucially,
himself fundamentally restricts his life until he encounters the garden mediated through Mary
and, later, Dickon. Furthermore, prior to the garden, all his knowledge of nature and of the rural
comes through books: "Colin had read about a great many singular things" (Burnett, 2007: 258).
As he later observes, "I scarcely ever went out, and when I did go I never looked at it. I didn’t even
think about it
through the stories told to him by Mary, if then more affective when he starts to visit and engage
with it directly.
Mary, in contrast, shows little expression of or affection for representational nature or
(English) rurality, symbolically coming to the house across the moors at night from her pampered
and cloistered largely interior life in India. She is regarded as having less "imagination than…
[Colin, as] at least he had spent a good deal of time looking at wonderful books and pictures"
(Burnett, 2007: 220). However, her relationship with rural nature changes dramatically as she
increasingly engages materially with the extensive grounds of the house. She acquires the use of
a small plot of ground: "a bit of earth… to plant seeds in – to make things grow – to see them come
alive" (Burnett, 2007: 130–1).
More completely, there is her aforementioned discovery and subsequent cultivation (initially on
her own but then under the guidance of Dickon and later with Colin) of the secret garden. For Mary,
"the garden is… liberating, wild, and health-inducing and egalitarian. It is also anarchic, Dionysian,
and is the scene of Mary’s sexual awakening" (Wilkie, 1997: 79).
Critics, although not using the terminology, overwhelmingly celebrate Mary’s more-than-
representational life epiphany over Colin’s more restricted use of nature to facilitate his recuperation.
For Keyser (1983: 8) "Mary… [is] truly imaginative and convincing… [because un]like Colin… [she
does not] need the stimulus of books to have real adventures and solve real problems". Or, as more
fully expressed by Parsons (2002: 261–2):
"     
awakening… Nature and, by association, the female principle becomes Mary’s teachers. Colin, on the
other hand, has gotten his experience and knowledge from books he read during his seclusion…Mary
begins her work in the garden… through instinct rather than instruction".
At the end of the novel Colin literally bumps into his father as he runs out of the secret garden
during a race with Mary, no longer sickly but vigorous and healthy. However, instead of seeing this as
of science… acquired... from book learning" (Wilkie, 1997: 80, my emphasis) – Parsons (2002: 265–6)
celebrates how "Colin is symbolically expelled from the garden... [being] inimical to nature, expounding
about Western science and logic… [whilst] Mary… has aligned herself with the forces of nature". Thus,
             
                
symbolically walks back with his father to the house, leaving Mary (and Dickon) to an uncertain fate
In summary, the more-than-representational presents a fuller, more liberating resource
than the representational, if – as is similarly the case in Horrid Henry’s Hike also a less
anticipated or foreshadowed resource. If "lived experience... is... the ‘mid-point’ between mind and
body"(Simonsen, 2010: 223), Colin ultimately leaves the lived experience of the garden and "returns"
to the mind. However, the widely noted "magic" of the garden (Koppes, 1978; Parsons, 2002) is
played out through a more-than-representational practiced "mid-point". As articulated earlier in
the book by Colin:
“There is Magic in there – good Magic, you know, Mary. I am sure there is.
“So am I,” said Mary.
“Even if it isn’t real Magic,” Colin said, “we can pretend it is. Something is there – Something!”
(Burnett, 2007: 251-2, my emphasis).
This "something" expresses a synergy emerging from mind and body but also from people
and extra-human nature (Koppes, 1978). As Figure 2.2 illustrates, magic resides through natured
practice; "the Magic works best when you work yourself" (Burnett, 2007: 290), Colin notes.
Both brief engagements with Horrid Henry’s Hike and The Secret Garden reveal the value of
approaching rurality through a more-than-representational lens, which in practice adds a non-
representational dimension to tales that initially appear intrinsically representational
. With attention
focusing on the expressions of rurality within the stories themselves, a number of conclusions arise.
First, within both stories the rural is framed initially in largely representational ways but
becomes increasingly subverted by the non-representational. Thus, in Horrid Henry’s Hike we get
Henry’s articulation of his parents’ vision of their anticipated country walk, which is then destroyed
2In the edition of the book used here, illustrator Inga Moore depicts Mary on a pony and Dickon on foot following Colin and his
father back to the house (Burnett 2007: 315-6); this is not described thus in the text.
3One aspect of this, of course, is that books are by their very nature primarily representational and a further line of enquiry
should explore the affective experience of the stories for readers and listeners.
Magic of The Secret Garden?: acknowledging more-than-representational rurality
by the mud-splattered, wet-clothed practiced reality. In The Secret Garden there is Mary’s elaboration
of the garden to a bedridden Colin, or Colin’s own understanding of the world through books, both
of which are displaced by the "magic" of material engagement with the garden itself. In summary,
the representational may initiate actions and behaviour but often the non-representational
(increasingly) shapes subsequent developments (see also Halfacree and Rivera, 2012 on pro-rural
Second, within the two stories the representational is clearly associated with "adult" (Henry’s
parents, Colin as incipient Master) discourses and priorities and the non-representational with
"youthful" (Henry, Mary) alternatives. This somewhat mirrors a neo-Lefebvrian distinction
between representations of rurality that aspire to authoritative spatial hegemony and lives of the
rural that express more personal and subversive meanings (Halfacree, 2006). Within children’s
stories, therefore, youthful practices and experiences seek to subvert an adultist terrain. Different
worlds and world-views are deliberately juxtaposed, resulting typically either in the triumph of the
anarchic youthful (Horrid Henry’s Hike) or in a more unresolved and ambiguous outcome for re-
vitalised future life biographies (The Secret Garden).
Figure 2.3 attempts to express diagrammatically these latter two conclusions. It marks a
trajectory for rurality apparent in both stores from the dominant, adult, representational quadrant
to the subversive, youthful, non-representational quadrant. This is not, however, to suggest that
Figure 2.3: The ‘trajectory’ of rurality in Horrid Henry’s Hike and The Secret Garden
Figure 2.2: The ‘magic’ mid-point of natured practice suggested by The Secret Garden
the other two quadrants are empty in these stories. For example, Colin’s initial sense of the garden
as told to him by Mary is clearly representational drawing on his book learning – but is also
"alternative" as it inspires a very idealised and impassioned imaginary. Similarly, adults such as
Dickon’s mother and gardener Ben Weatherstaff clearly "feel" rurality, too.
Third, however, Figure 2.3 taken as whole also serves to emphasise how it is not just a case of
"anticipated" representational versus "unanticipated" non-representational, or of radical youthful
rurality versus staid adult rurality. Instead, attention returns to the more synergistic idea of the
more-than-representational: mind and body, humans and extra-human nature (Figure 2.2). Both
representational and non-representational rurality are required both to make the stories work and
enable their protagonists to consume rurality fully. Consumption is not just a case of playing off
representations against the material reality of rural engagement but is fundamentally a product
of both aspects together, entangled – sometimes they converge, sometimes they complement,
sometimes they clash. Together they keep human engagement with the rural dynamic and "alive".
Finally, what does a more-than-representational perspective have to say more broadly about the
emerging rural spaces discussed throughout the present book? First, in spite of the acknowledgment
of a seven billion plus world population (for example, Guardian, 2011) reinforcing calls not to neglect
the food production role of rural space, the consumption importance of rurality (Halfacree, 2006)
will undoubtedly continue. Second, examining such a consumption role has to date, as indicated
earlier, predominantly focused on how rural representations – as leisure space, as residential haven,
different rural users (walkers versus off-roaders, incomers versus locals, conservationists versus
developers, and so on) (Woods, 2005). However, third, a more-than-representational perspective
highlights how not just "armchair" rural representational battles but embodied experiences of
different rural users are of vital interest, too. Fourth, therefore, whilst one might be able to simulate
rural consumption experiences (Halfacree, 2012), if we accept representation can never capture
fully the non-representational then any simulated rurality risks being a pale shadow experientially
of the "real thing". In sum, we must strive to ensure that the rurality consumed is allowed something
of its unpredictable, unruly, unanticipated, unknown "life" (Bell et al., 2010). Only through accepting
something of an "open" rural, always "in-formation" (Ingold, 2008: 1802) will the true "magic"
of synergistic more-than-representational rural no longer remain "secret" but be productively
energised through emerging rural spaces.
Phantoms, publics and the politics of engagement: populating the rural renewable energy landscape
#3 Phantoms, Publics and the Politics of Engagement: Populating the Rural
Renewable Energy Landscape / Gordon WALKER / 28
#4 Distributed Generation of Sustainable Energy as a Common Pool Resource:
 Maarten WOLSINK / 36
Renewable Energy Technologies in European Landscapes
– from Myths to (Adaptive) Management / Dan van der HORST / 48
The title of this chapter takes its inspiration from Walter Lippmann’s the “Phantom Public”
(Lippman, 1927). Referred to by Latour (2005: 38) as a “stunning” book and drawn on by
Marres (2005) for a re-evaluation of the relevance of a 1920s debate between Lippman and Dewey
(1991 [1927]) for contemporary techno-political controversies, I extend the metaphor of the
phantom to explore the evolving scope and form of relations between publics and renewable energy
technologies. I am interested here in how “publics” of various forms are coming into being, how they
and dynamics of sociotechnical change. In this way the chapter explores the active but selective
populating of the rural renewable energy landscape – in all its diversity – travelling through but
well beyond the rather disenchanted ghostly formulation of the public in Lippman’s work. There are
three qualities of the phantom that structure the following discussion:
ƛFirst, the phantom as transient and materialising in various shifting shapes and forms. Any
              
materialises in different forms and comes in being in relation to particular institutions and
interests. Sheller (2004) uses the imagery of “liquid social dynamics” to convey the sense in
which publics move in and out of different contexts, identities and relationships.
ƛSecond, the phantom as imagined, anticipated and imbued with subjectivity and emotion. The
phantom is feared, a shadowy threat with powers to unsettle and threaten; powers that
become real and realise actions in others through their imagination. The public I shall argue
(and drawing on Maranta et al (2003)) is similarly imagined and anticipated in ways that
actors – achieving agency not only through material actions, but through the anticipation of
actions by others. Publics are though both feared and
ƛThird, the phantom as haunting and hidden in the margins. The public, in some of its many forms,
injustices between the phantoms that are acknowledged and those that are ignored.
I will consider in this chapter how these three metaphorical qualities of the phantom are revealing
for an analysis of the emerging relations between publics and renewable energy technologies in
the UK as they are proliferating predominantly to-date in rural, semi-rural and coastal landscapes.
They each bring forward sophistications and complexities that take us beyond the immediate
preoccupations of acceptability, protest and (misrepresented) NIMBY reactions that dominate
policy and media engagement, and much academic research – although these preoccupations
themselves “do work” that is of interest.
The chapter draws on insights and outputs from a number of projects completed and ongoing
and in this respect is an attempt at something of a synthesis and overview. The projects each
1 The main projects are: Beyond NIMBYism: a multidisciplinary investigation of public engagement with renewable energy
(ESRC funded 2006–2009); Community Energy Initiatives: embedding sustainable technologies at a local level (ESRC
funded 2003– 2005); Interdisciplinary Cluster on Energy Systems, Equity and Vulnerability (ESPRC/ESRC funded 2009–2011)
Phantoms, publics and the politics of engagement: populating the rural renewable energy landscape
centre on particular formulations of “the public” in relation to sustainable energy technologies and
representations and meanings. Further details of these
projects can be found in cited publications.
Before saying more about the phantom like qualities of the public, some explanation is
needed of how renewable energy is to be viewed conceptually (see Walker and Cass (2007) for
fuller discussion). The need for a more involved account of relations with publics to some degree
   
fantastically diverse. This is in terms of both the technology and its social organisation (in short
hand the “hardware” and “software”). The “hardware” of the renewable energy category includes an
increasing diversity of artefacts and engineered objects that share only one common characteristic –
that through generating useable energy in the form of electricity or heat, the resource base is not
        
physically or technically with a woodchip burning boiler or a photovoltaic cell. Renewable energy
hardware also shows “hyper-sizeability”, in being implemented at markedly different material sizes
ranging from macro, down to meso, micro and pico.
This increasing diversity in form and size of hardware has various implications for relations
technical category, about which attitudes or opinions are voiced. We should expect, and maybe
hope for, more differentiation and sophistication than such general categories can allow – even
categories of marine, wind, biomass and solar are becoming increasingly problematic. Second,
the geography of renewable energy generation is becoming increasingly stretched and complex
marine environments – and more besides – are each now acting as the sites of energy generation.
of places/spaces and associated communities, as their relational qualities can be quite distinct.
The interaction between largely underwater tidal stream device and its socio-environment, is
quite different from the multi-megawatt solar farm and its socio-environment. Third, matters of
proximity and familiarity are becoming highly differentiated. Renewable energy hardwares are
on the one hand becoming incredibly familiar, taken for granted and proximate to bodies and
everyday practices (at one extreme the solar powered calculator or watch); whilst at the same time
increasingly remote and hidden away in offshore and distant rural spaces, with a spectrum of other
proximal orientations inbetween. These competing movements stretch the social positioning and
everyday meaning of relevant technical artefacts to an extreme degree.
The social organization or software – of renewable energy is also taking on an ever extending
heterogeneity. Social organization is the means which alternative “hardwares” are utilized and given
purpose and meaning – see Van Vliet (2002), Chappells (2003), Southerton et al. (2004) for discussion
related to various sustainable technologies. What makes up the software of social organization for
renewable energy implementation is a combination of different interacting arrangements and relations
between actors and institutions that can be extrapolated from the four sets of questions in Table 3.1.
The key point here is that there are a large number of permutations to how these four sets
of questions can be answered individually and in combination. Any one combination of hardware
form and size does not necessarily  social organization;
alternatives are always theoretically available. It is then a question of which hardware and software
unrealised or marginalised.
In Walker and Cass (2010) we identify 5 different modes of implementation that have been
utilized for organizing renewable energy generation in the UK – public utility, private supplier,
community, household and organizational – each of which represent different combinations of
the elements of social 
containing variety within and hybridity between. Socio-technical heterogeneity and innovation in
hardware and software therefore very much characterises the evolving pattern of renewable energy
implementation in the UK.
three senses of the public as phantom.
For Lippman, a political journalist and commentator, the sense of the public as phantom was
“unattainable ideal” (1925: 20) of an inclusive and
sovereign public able to express and empower its democratic will. This, he argued, was related
to the complexity of governing in a technological age, where the objects of politics had become
so many and so diverse and were not familiar to all, or immediately accessible and knowable.
In this context “the public” could not exist in a stable and constant form but rather materialised
only around particular objects of attention, ones where issues or crises were not adequately and
simply dealt with by existing social communities and institutions. Dewey took up this argument
observing that “in no two ages or places is there the same public. Conditions make the consequences of
associated action and knowledge of them different” (1927: 33), seeing publics as “called into being”
(1927: 27) by the indirect consequences of the actions of others; transient, forming and reforming
into contingent geometries, rather than stable and constant.
For Marres (2005, 2007) the object-issue orientation of the Lippman-Dewey argument,
although made over a century ago, provides a direct engagement with contemporary debates
as constructing a progressive view of the way in which complex, distributed and entangled issues
Table 3.1: The key elements of social organisation
Elements of social  Key Questions
Function and service
What is the generated energy being used for in terms of the services (comfort,
warmth, visibility, mobility etc.) that it is providing? Who utilizes these potential
services and what physical and institutional distance is there between the point
of energy production and the point of service “consumption”?
Ownership and return
Who owns the technology and how is this ownership organised - privately,
publicly, collectively – and at what scale – locally, nationally, internationally?
          
Management and operation
Who manages, controls, and maintains the hardware and how is this organised –
privately, publicly, collectively; locally, remotely? To what extent is this regulated
and through what principles and mechanisms?
Infrastructure and networking
Is the energy that is generated fed into an electricity or heat network (is it on or
off grid?) and if so what scale of network – local, regional, or national? What/
who does this network supply and how is it managed (locally, distantly; publicly
or by regulated market?)
Phantoms, publics and the politics of engagement: populating the rural renewable energy landscape
(biotechnology, AIDS) enable public involvement in politics, “making democratic politics happen”
through calling publics into being. The phantom public may be ungraspable, she contends, but
“ungraspability may be an aspect of agency and … the agency of ungraspable entities may make things
happen that perhaps wouldn’t happen otherwise” (216), a point to be returned to later.
To the list of complex and entangled contemporary issues that call publics into being into being
we could plainly add climate change, energy policies and matters of carbon mitigation. Within this
involved mix, renewable energy evidently demonstrates the capacity to be object-issues around
which politically engaged publics are created, organised in a differentiated way around particular
we could map the politicised publics orientated around renewable energy technologies to identify
their multiple forms – ranging from dispersed and networked climate camp campaigners, through
to local rural mobilisations against private sector wind farms, biomass projects and hydro schemes.
Not all renewable energy technologies would be present in this map, or crucially all modes of social
organisation, or all places where technologies were being utilised or proposed.
The dynamics of where publics come into being around renewable energy projects are complex
dimensions and wider values, orientations and beliefs – see Walker et al. (2010), for an attempt
to conceptualise such dynamics. The publics involved would not be homogeneous, forming a
(temporary) political community, cutting across other forms and manifestations of pre-existing
(2005: 214) suggests constituting “a community of strangers”.
Whilst the multiplicity of publics involved is already evident, we can remove the shackles of a
directly political
set of others ways in which publics and renewable energy technologies are related. Taking on board
the extended diversity of hardwares and softwares discussed earlier, in Walker and Cass (2007) we
identify 10 different roles that publics can take up or be given (in a UK context, but we expect not a
listing exclusive to the UK). As outlined in Table 3.2, only two of these roles (project protestors and
and processes of “coming into being”.
social organisation
have evolved, new and distinct social roles have been produced that extend far beyond the “end-of-
wire” captive consumer of publicly owned utilities. There is now a constellation of ways in which
  active consumers choosing green electricity
and acting as investors in green funds; community project participants working collectively to set
living near to a commercial wind farm; energy producers transgressing the producer-consumer
divide, and so on.
The existence of these multiple public roles produces the potential for a diversity of everyday
encounters and interactions with energy technologies, in both an abstract and material sense. For
example, people signing up for a green tariff or investing in green funds engage with renewable
energy as an abstracted and spatially distanced category. In contrast, when acting as participants
in community projects or as household microgenerators, people interact with the material
rural landscape, the village,
as we move from role to role and case to case, making both publics and technologies relational and
conceptually unstable.
These observations bring us to a second sense of the phantom public. Whilst publics do materially
exist (there are indeed real people that do real things!), they are also imagined and anticipated, as
phantoms and ghosts are – an idea explored by Maranta et al. (2003) in an account of how “imagined lay
persons” are part of the way in which lay-expert interactions are framed and encounters are anticipated.
They argue that “imagined lay persons” are conceptualised rather than explicit; “functional constructs”
in expertise, manifest in the products and actions of those who are doing the imagining, and according
can achieve a second-hand form of agency; something that Rip and Kemp capture in the notion of
“socioware”. Socioware they state “includes the societal embedding of a technology in concrete social
contexts as part of the development of technology” (Rip and Kemp, 1998: 331). They then comment:
“For some technologies … public reactions have forced developers to redesign their systems.
Learning from these experiences they sometimes anticipate public acceptability actively. In other
words they include socioware in the design and development of their technology” (ibid)
In a paper by Walker et al. (2010) we report on research undertaken with a diversity of actors
involved in different parts of the renewable energy industry and within policy development and
, to assess the extent to which these processes of including “socioware” are at work. We are
interested in this chapter in exploring what conceptions our interviewees held of the public, what
expectations they had of how they would behave during renewable energy project development and
how these expectations shaped their working practices and strategies.
Table 3.2: Public roles and renewable energy
Captive Consumers 
Active Customers Actively choose between suppliers including green tariffs which partially or entirely involve
renewable generation.
Service Users Use the services (light, heat, motion etc.) provided by energy generated using renewable
technologies, potentially in many different everyday settings and forms and function of building.
Financial Investors
Project Protestors Actively object to projects through for example organisation of a local protest group, attending
meetings, writing to press, lobbying, signing petitions etc.
Project Supporters Actively engage in similar actions to protestors, although support is typically less visibly
organised and vocal.
Project Participants Get involved in community mode of implementation, includes; membership of organising
groups; attending meetings; or hands-on installation or maintenance.
Technology Hosts Owners of buildings or land used for hosting technology, but not the renewable energy
technology itself.
Energy Producers Directly own and operate generation technologies of different forms
2 The interviewee categories were Developers, Manufacturers, Consultants, Finance, Marketing and PR, Policy & Regulators,
NGOs and Interest Groups, Politicians
Phantoms, publics and the politics of engagement: populating the rural renewable energy landscape
Our analysis showed there was both a ready notion of the public and of public subjectivity amongst
the interviewees, although this was differentiated, sometimes to a quite sophisticated degree. These
notions had been developed in various ways, including through direct experience, the circulation
of stories and narratives across actor networks and through media reporting and representations.
Despite various forms of differentiation there was though a shared and constant repertoire which
imagined the public as a potential threat. An expectation of the possibility of hostility to project
implementation a real and present danger and business risk – latent, sometimes materialising
amongst particular publics, for particular reasons and in particular circumstances and places; and
set alongside a positive general public orientation to the idea of generating energy in renewable
ways. For some RET actors, this went further with recourse to the language of “NIMBY”, with
publics always seen as obstructive and being emotionally rather than rationally driven (see Cass
et al. (2009) for more detailed discussion on this aspect). The public here became an aggressive,
frantic and hostile phantom with power to disrupt business plans and obstruct policy targets.
The consequences for how these various actors then saw the place of the imagined public in
the development of renewable energy technologies and strategies of implementation and project
development were fascinating and sometimes surprising. Starting with those positioned most
“upstream”, engineers and technology developers were initially reluctant to see the public as
centrally relevant to their technical and design work, but conceded some ways in which the material
form of artefacts had been and were being shaped by “public views” – the rejection of the two-
blade turbine because it was more unsettling than the three-blade; the design aesthetics of visible
elements; and the importance of rendering technologies as invisible as possible where there were
public “sensitivities” (a big issue, for example, for current marine technology developers wanting to
keep as much as possible underwater and out of sight).
Moving downstream to development strategies many interviewees discussed the way in
which expectations of the public were shaping locational patterns. These impacts on the spatiality
of renewable energy implementation ranged from the detail of separation distances between
infrastructure and homes, to the “repowering” at old project locations rather than building new
offshore rather than onshore wind power and a general
reluctance to invest in locations expected to be socially hostile including bank employees who
visited rural communities to make their own assessments of local antagonisms and a developer
who was moving investment away from the UK because public protest had become so problematic –
a “battle of the somme” in the interviewees characterisation.
A further impact was on practices of engagement with publics during project approval, with
   
becoming an increasingly common method for attempting to secure planning consent. In these
ways “the public” had become, to some degree and for good or bad, “inscripted” (Akrich, 1992) in
the evolving form, distribution and politics of renewable energy development.
Whilst this material focuses on the imaginations of actors seeing the public phantom as a threat
and business/policy risk, the list of public roles presented in Table 2.2 suggests that there will be
other parallel imaginations at work. Indeed, in an earlier research project undertaken on small scale
rural “community energy” projects, we observed quite different invocations of publics and their
subjectivity, taking the form of much friendlier phantoms or “good ghosts” (Walker et al., 2007).
Many of those involved in advocating and supporting community energy projects had normative
drivers that started from a quite different set of anticipations of the subjectivities and agencies of
local people (Walker and Devine-Wright, 2008; Seyfang and Smith, 2007). Here rural publics were
being imagined not as risks but as opportunities, as having capacities for creativity and collective
innovation, working together, building community capacity for change and sustainability. With the
right support, incentives and education such progressive coming into being of publics as committed
“communities” could be produced, with wider catalytic effects on public understanding and support
for low carbon transitions. Such imaginations were crucial in enabling policy initiatives, resource
commitments and widespread political advocacy.
The anticipations here are quite different from the problematic NIMBYism of “other publics”,
and it is striking how one is seen as democratically and socially productive, the other exactly the
opposite – with the Ed Milliband, Minister for Energy and Climate Change going as far as arguing
that wind farm objection should be seen as socially unacceptable. Thus representations of publics
“do work”, justifying some political actions, and rejecting others.
The third notion of the phantom is one that serves to hide and obscure rather than bring to the
fore. Phantoms here are secreted in marginal spaces, kept away from everyday view, not readily
revealed. Publics can be similarly obscured. If we go back to the list of roles in Table 2.2 we can
be animated about its variety and about the multiplication of new forms of proactive engagement
 
“captive consumer” also remains very much in place, represented most clearly by the fuel poor,
vulnerable to price rises and regressive pricing structures, locked into poor quality built and energy
infrastructures (Boardman, 2009; Day and Hitchings, 2009) and constrained in their capacities to
           
(Walker, 2009). The rural fuel poor is recognised as being particularly well hidden, suffering from
             
improve and high fuel costs due to being off the natural gas grid.
This is a public which is all too readily obscured, having to be purposefully revealed by the
use of institutional capacities to identify, measure, organize and mobilise around a distinct form
of inequality and disadvantage. In the UK the fuel poor public is known to some degree through its
fuel poor recognised as problematic
(Hills, 2011). In other countries in Europe the fuel poor public is only just beginning to be similarly
recognised (Schiellerup et al., 2009). In terms of relations with renewable energy technologies,
there is a real danger that for this public – the captive fuel poor the only form engagement is
a deeply regressive one. As policy to support renewable energy development strengthens, the
consequences in terms of rising energy prices will be felt most acutely by the energy vulnerable
distinct losers in the low carbon transition. In the UK, OFGEM (2009) has, for example, estimated
               
to 60% (compared to 2009 levels). A key determinate of future prices across different scenarios
is the strength of action taken to cut emissions through green energy measures. This presents the
possibility of a low carbon future in which an unrecognised and overlooked energy underclass
low carbon transition.
Whilst this public is hidden in the hard to heat homes of rural Britain, there are other more
distant publics that have equally obscured and easily overlooked relations with UK renewable
energy technology implementations. The relational networks of climate change stretch globally and
under cosmopolitan notions of justice our obligations to others stretch far beyond national borders.
In this sense there is global public interested in the fortunes of renewable energy development in
the UK, a public vulnerable to and least able to adapt to climate change impacts particularly in the
developing world (Adger et al., 2006). One of the arguments made by those deeply critical of wind
Phantoms, publics and the politics of engagement: populating the rural renewable energy landscape
energy protestors in the UK, is that whilst the amenity and aesthetic interests of local publics are
well represented in public debate and decision fora, the voices of those most affected by climate
change are absent – ghost publics vaguely known but politically marginal and obscured.
“The public and its organization for political ends is not only a ghost, but a ghost which walks, talks
and obscures, confuses and misleads” (Dewey, 1927 [1991])
The intention of this chapter has been to explore the evolving scope and form of relations between
publics and renewable energy technologies, tracing how multiple “publics” of various forms have come
into being, how they are imagined and anticipated and how they are proving more or less visible in the
sociotechnical change. Three characteristics of the phantom have been
used in this endeavour, stretching Lippmans metaphor – I suspect to breaking point – to demonstrate
There are four interconnected and concluding points which emerge from this analysis:
First, the distributed and largely rural renewable energy landscape is necessarily a populated
one. It is not a techno-organisational landscape denuded of forms of public sociality. It has many
overlapping “publics” variously positioned and created in relation to the material artefacts of RET,
is socially more barren), and is absolutely part of the low carbon transformations that have already
and are continuing to take place.
Second, the analysis demonstrates (again) the importance of thinking in sociotechnical terms.
It may be now widely accepted that the technological does not have some existence independent
the “socio” of sociotechnical can and does constitute. As I have outlined there is an intense social
diversity as well as technological diversity to the renewable energy category, and many forms of
functional, commercial, political and geographic relation to be encompassed. Furthermore we need
to recognise that the social becomes part of the technical not simply in material ways, but also
through the imagination and anticipation involved in producing the “socioware” of innovation and
implementation, and inscripting representations of the public within transitional change.
Third, it follows that when talking about innovation, change and transition we have to be very
cognisant of its “public” dimensions. The forms of social innovation and change that are involved
and the dynamics and differentiations of social practices that are integral to sustainable energy
transitions necessarily leads us into body of sociological (and geographical) understanding that is
too often overlooked in a reliance on thin models of how publics come to exist and how they work.
Fourth, we similarly need to recognise the politics involved in imagining and materialising some
renewable energy publics rather than others – making some phantoms real whilst leaving others in
the shadows. There are publics that have come or are coming “into being” that will be celebrated and
applauded (the community project participants), others that will be derided (the NIMBY protestors).
Some that will have agency (direct and indirect) to effect and promote change (the NIMBY protestors?),
others that remain restrained and obstructed (the community project participants?). There will be
(the captive fuel poor). The populated rural renewable energy landscape is thus crisscrossed with
competing claims for rights, responsibilities and recognition, and mapped out with actors who have
Chapter 4
From the middle of the 1980’s onwards, the major development in energy supply and consumption
has been the splintering of central power grids and the simultaneous evolvement of regional,
 
current trend is moving towards having much smaller energy conversion units, which are located
with an enormous geographical spacing. This type of generation capacity in numerous generating
units situated close to energy consumers is called “Distributed Generation” (Ackerman et al., 2001).
Distributed generation is increasingly associated with a more sustainable type of power supply. With
atmospheric CO
still increasing rapidly, there is an urgent need for climate change mitigation, the
primarily tool being a switch to low carbon energy. Applying renewables, in particular in electricity
supply, has become a pressing issue and most renewable energy units must be considered forms
of distributed generation. A system with a large amount of distributed generation in combination
  
alternative to the traditional power supply system (Alanne and Saari, 2006).
According to the major trend in the literature on distributed generation adoption of composite
carbon emissions. This is suggested, because distributed generation comprehends combined
geographically dispersed decentralised generation from preferably renewable sources. Most
renewable sources require generation units that are much smaller than conventional, existing
power generating units. The prime example here is the standard PhotoVoltaic panel with a size
smaller than 1 m
. And even up-to-date reliable wind turbines may have a capacity of about 2MW
this is still fairly small compared to the conventional central power plant. Furthermore, small hydro
power, geothermal power, and local biomass based combined heat and power (CHP) units may
emerge, all with rather small size. Within small micro-grids, newly developing techniques of storage
(batteries) and fuel cells may become increasingly important in relation to the intermittent energy
sources (Tanrioven, 2005). All these assets, in particular the renewable power generating units will
therefore become sited as decentralized units and usually be located closer to the end-users.
The literature on distributed generation tends towards exploring ways to realise the emerging
potential of distributed generation in smart combinations with the associated loads of consumption.
This is why “micro-grid” subsystems are promoted (Marris, 2008; Jiayi et al., 2008). The micro-grid
is a cluster of loads of electricity users and micro-sources that operate as a single controllable system
for generating and using power. It enables the production and storage of renewable energy, as well
as the exchange of electricity between energy providers and consumers to take place locally. Such
micro-grids can combine distributed generation from several energy sources with generating units
Distributed generation of sustainable energy as a common pool resource:
Social acceptance in rural settings of smart (micro-)grid congurations
and storage capacity owned and/or managed by groups of multiple consumers (households and
others), all becoming small scale co-providers of energy (Hammons, 2008). The term “smart grid”
generally refers to the larger grid which integrates these micro-grids. For the existing, in developed
countries centralized power supply systems, application of individually distributed generators
per se can also cause reliability problems, because of the problem of intermittent supply of most
renewable sources (Pepermans et al., 2005). Therefore, the emerging micro-grids and the way these
can be integrated are a relevant question for power supply, whereas existing energy providers tend
to indicate that distributed generation produces reliability problems. These generation units are
outside of the control of conventional grid operators (Pepermans et al., 2005). On the other hand,
the emerging distributed generation and micro-grids may also provide solutions for instability if we
would be able to deal with the intermittency of the distributed power generating units already at
the local level, within the micro-grid.
The question that will be discussed in this chapter is what the determinants are of rural
communities that may form micro-grids that are essential to distributed generation applying
for application of solar power (PV), on-land wind power, geothermal energy, small hydro, organic
agricultural waste and biomass fuelled CHP, all show a wide geographical variety. Furthermore, as
the supply of distributed generation must be locally and regionally attuned with electricity demand
in local micro-grids, the systems also depend on the composition of the group of users. When
innovations in energy are analyzed, and also    
is limited, very much unbalanced, and the term “user” is in fact ambiguous when considered in the
relation to technology production (Jelsma and Rohracher, 2003). If micro-grids arise, they will connect
a group (of very different types) of users, probably located close to each other, that should organize
themselves around a common system of power generation and electricity consumption. Hence, they
form a micro-grid community. Such a system of community energy requires a form of governance of
local smart micro-grids with a combination of consumption and small-scale generation close to the
consumers and by the consumer ("prosumer") that can be viewed as self-governance in a system of
a common pool resource (Dietz et al., 2003). The management of the natural resource of renewable
energies shows similarities to the management of common pool resources. As mentioned, there will
be wide variety of such micro-grids, and here we will focus upon such systems in rural settings.
Currently 
example of a smart grid currently in operation. Despite these ambiguities, there is substantial and
accelerated technology driven progress towards developing smart grids (Coll-Mayor et al., 2007).
Here we try to address the development of micro-grids that include substantial amounts of
renewable distributed generation, but we focus upon the question how such new energy systems
are socially constructed and embedded. The most fundamental changes in power supply concern in
particular the institutional conditions for the development of such systems of micro-grid/distributed
generation. Whereas designing smart grids is fundamentally different from the existing power
supply and distribution system, the crucial differences are not only technical; the institutional
differences are even more important. All of the actors in power production and consumption would
play entirely different roles in a developed distributed
generation from renewable sources is included.
of smart grids. The technology developed follows strong but highly questionable assumptions of
expected social acceptance of the basic principles and of the crucial elements of these smart grids.
There are two possible paths for development: either
a. Policies will be increasingly designed to enhance the autonomy of (local) groups of end-
users to further their options to apply renewable sources and sustainable energy use; or
b. The options for decentralised generation capacity and smart metering will be used for
regulating individual consumption behaviour by increasing the surveillance of domestic
consumers by network managers with the aim of regulating demand in line with central
policy prescribed levels.
Most studies on energy consumption behaviour in households tend to see consumption in
terms of individuals “responding” to information, price, social norms in order to getting the need
for demand reduction or load-shifts accepted. Reliability issues concern regulation of 
as well as market balancing, and for both it is essential to install and use “smart meters” as part of
a “smart grid” (Charles, 2009). Currently, most references to consumer behaviour in ‘smart grid’
Demand Side Management” (DSM) by energy providers. This
approach of consumers as on-demand receivers seems to fall in line with (b), but the expectations
about acceptance and actually occurring changes in consumption as a result of utility-controlled
smart meters are generally naïve (Darby, 2010). Approach (a) is more in line with the smart grid as
a collection of integrated micro-grids (Marris, 2008) and this approach requires even more social
science research supporting the social foundations of the development of smart grids. If we aim for
optimal application of low carbon generation by renewable energy sources, this kind of knowledge
is essential. Based on the existing knowledge about the deployment of renewables, it seems that
option (a) provides a much wider scope of possibilities for applying renewables in distributed
generation (Hammons, 2008). For analysing what constitutes a “smart grid” we need a so-called
socio-technical perspective.
An infrastructure system should be seen as combinations of certain elements and characteristics
that are technical and of characteristics of social organising that make the technology active
(Guy, 2006). From this viewpoint, a smart grid is a socio-technical network characterised by the
active management of both information and distributed
. The characteristics of such systems should be
(North, 1990). For example, one of the main patterns of thinking in existing power supply is
challenged, because a smart grid is a drastic departure from the currently predominant centralised
power supply systems, because it can become a network of integrated micro-grids that are internally
             
consumers of different types. Figure 4.1 shows the smart grid, according to this description.
are large numbers of energy supply units that are generally small and spatially dispersed, and (b)
  
natural conditions (Charles, 2009). Smart meters will become the major nods in the networks of
 
future power grids, smart metering is a no-regret option (Van der Veen and de Vries, 2009). The
intelligent monitoring systems utilised in the 
“processors”, keep track of all          
supply within the micro-grid, to optimize consumption to supply in the micro-grid, to optimize
the integration of the micro-grid in the larger network, and to optimize the supply by additional
possibly larger scale remote power generating units such as large scale wind farms (e.g. offshore),
large scale PV plants (e.g. abroad or in desert areas) and more conventional central power plants
Distributed generation of sustainable energy as a common pool resource:
Social acceptance in rural settings of smart (micro-)grid congurations
smart meters do not only measure consumption, but they monitor supply and demand and attune
both all scale levels, both from a user/consumer and a micro-grid point of view as well as seen from
the central grid. Smart metering consists of wide range of equipment, from sensing, measurement
(energy, loads, weather etc.), and control devices.
In the current institutional framing these appliances are essentially seen as tools that are
operated by the energy supplier or the grid manager (DSM). The crucial social issue, however, is
whether to see the smart grid as fostering two-way communication as well as operation and control
primarily by energy users, who would have themselves become producers. When users are also
producers, as is the case in distributed generation, it is likely that they will also exercise control
and management over information, as well as smart grid incorporates consumer
equipment and behaviour in grid design, operation, and communication. These distributed “assets”
must be considered to be the most important characteristic of smart grids (Brown et al., 2010: 68).
These assets provide consumers with control over “smart appliances” in homes and businesses.
They also interconnect energy management systems in “smart buildings” and enable consumers
switching) of energy consumption. Contrary to conventional meters, smart meters monitor, control,
and display the energy demand and supply from various sources and manage storage capacity and
loading processes."
Figure 4.1: Smart grid: a 'network of integrated micro-grids that can monitor and heal itself’
Source: Marris (2008: 570) ©Nature
After “distributed assets”, “incorporating distributed energy resources”, and “smart metering”, the
next important issue is: “Is the utility willing to give the consumer ‘limited’ or ‘total’ control of load
and generation”
self-evident. Implementation of user-control would be nothing less than a complete institutional
revolution, but it would be an important change. However, the developments in renewable energy
implementation show that such institutional changes are very hard to achieve. The users’ control
in the micro-grid also includes control over the distributed generation units and over facilities for
“distributed storage”, including different types of devices for demand side management. Such storage
capacity is currently neither available and nor economically feasible, but this is likely to change
with the introduction of electric cars, which will bring in extra load as well as storage capacity into
households (Srivastava et al., 2010).
By replacing the conventional consumer-producer relationship with the relationship of the
consumer with himself and the partners in the micro-grid as a distributed generators (becoming
co-producers), entirely new relationships are created. The term “consumer” may refer to different
types of energy users, such as individual households, companies, or a group of individuals that
cooperate and operate as a single actor. Consumers will get other relationships with grid managers
and utilities. The consumer’s relationship with other partners in the micro-grid will also change
            
institutions in energy provision absolutely do not support these new relationships.
Innovation is rather the introduction of a new socio-technical system (STS) instead of simply
          
proffered design of such new systems (Geels, 2004). The willingness among different actors and
markets (authorities, utilities, enterprises, agencies, different publics, civil society organisations,
etc.) to accept key aspects of the innovation can be subdivided into two broad segments: (a)
acceptance of the creation of socio-economic conditions needed for implementation, and (b)
acceptance of the consequences (the ways in which implementation will affect and change current
practices in society).
The decisions that affect implementation of distributed generation in micro-grids do not only
concern the technologies of PV, wind, smart metering, or electric cars, but especially the institutional
  
and organisation are called “institutions”. According to North (1990: 4) institutions are the “rules of
the game” and these rules have emerged over time under different conditions with different goals.
The existing rules have come into being in history, serving other aims than the new ones. Such
“path dependency” (Thelen, 1999) is often responsible for unfavourable conditions that forestall the
introduction of a new STS. This may easily lead to deadlocks in the development of the new system,
generally known as institutional “lock-ins”.
This institutional setting is framing the acceptance to reserve space for distributed generation
units and the willingness to invest in wind power, PV or any other distributed renewable generation
unit. Obviously, geographical characteristics are very important for the acceptance of options for
the application of distributed renewables' generation, as well as for the institutional landscape
that determines this social acceptance. The distributed generation units can be placed, for
example, on rooftops of houses, on farmland, on companie's rooftops, school's rooftops, alongside
roads, etc. Clearly these options are very different for rural areas as compared to urban settings.
The density of local electricity demand is also very different, so attuning local electricity demand
and generation becomes a different question too. Beside that, the institutional landscape in rural
settings is very different from urban areas as well, as there are historical and cultural differences,
for example with regard the acceptance of PV and other renewables by actors. This acceptance is
determined to a considerable extent by the institutional arrangements of ownership and control of
the appliances (e.g. for PhotoVoltaics in households: Sauter and Watson, 2007) and ownership and
control over the space where the units will be placed. In general, the acceptance will also be shaped
by the trust the actors have in the institutions and the actors that guide the transformation of the
conventional energy grid into a “smart grid”.
consists of two networks of electricity producing units (with their capacity) and consumption (with
their loads) and a parallel 
Distributed generation of sustainable energy as a common pool resource:
Social acceptance in rural settings of smart (micro-)grid congurations
smart grid when there are hardly actors
that are willing to become part of it. The participants in these networks are social actors, and their
role in establishing a smart grid has been largely ignored thus far. It is the decision of those actors
certain aspects of it, the smart grid will become very different. Here we are facing a large number
of questions, such as:
ƛUnder what conditions are users willing to install their own generating capacity?
ƛWhat variants of control over generating capacity do these users accept?
ƛUnder what conditions are they willing to accept smart metering?
ƛUnder what conditions, and to which degree are they willing and able to change their
behaviour shaping different electricity consumption patterns?
ƛWho will be owners and/or managers of the power generating units?
ƛWho has property, management, and control over the smart meters?
ƛWho owns or has control over the data that are provided by smart metering?
ƛWho can use these data, and for what purpose?
ƛOn what optimization is the regulating function of smart metering directed, and does this
prioritize the application of renewable energy sources effectively?
ƛWhat is the role of the public grid manager in micro-grids or in the public grid that is
integrating many different micro-grids?
ƛWhat types of organizations exist for the communities that are connected by a micro-grid?
ƛHow should the mutual delivery of energy be regulated, including the rates?
ƛAre the payments within micro-grids public transactions, or may these be considered
internal transactions? (e.g. with consequences for taxing?).
ƛWhat will be the diversity in future large numbers of micro-grids, technically as well as socially?
Beyond all these practical questions, there is a fundamental question: is the establishment of
a 
The emergence of smart micro-grids is fully dependant on social co-operation and on the
focuses on technology, it does not reveal much awareness of social acceptance issues among the
actors involved in the establishment of smart micro-grids. This will probably rapidly evolve into a
bottleneck in the development of smart grid. Experiences with renewables deployment have shown
the strong impact of social acceptance on the rates of implemented renewable energy sources.
The challenges of implementing renewables demonstrate the importance of addressing the
social acceptance and adoption of the crucial elements of smart micro-grids. The establishment of
infrastructure that is necessary to achieve sustainability goals in various policy domains formulated
by national governments, is often not supported by existing institutions, including the policy
Deployment of renewables faces many problems connected to social acceptance, which is a
commonly used term in practical policy literature. The elaboration of the concept (Wüstenhagen
et al., 2007) distinguishes three dimensions of social acceptance of renewable energy innovations:
socio-political acceptance, with a focus on decisions that create (un-)favourable conditions for the
other two forms of acceptance; community acceptance, which concerns decisions regarding the
       acceptance, which
deals with the willingness to pay or to invest in innovation and implementation among actors. In
most countries the deployment of renewables has progressed rather slowly compared with the
policy targets for wind power. Studies that compared the large differences in applying innovation in
the electricity supply among various states have revealed that strong institutional factors determine
implementation rates (Breukers and Wolsink, 2007a, Fischlein et al., 2010; Toke et al., 2008). In the
wind power, for example, energy companies, authorities, and
private local investors thought that implementation would not face any problems with acceptance.
High public acceptance would easily translate into implementation, but this has shown to be a
simple and naïve assumption. Only recently, acceptance issues and their geographical diversity
have been widely recognised as crucial for the development of renewable energy (Wüstenhagen
et al., 2007) and still, within policy persistent misconceptions exist. The perspective of what is
actually needed to transform the energy supply and demand systems of developed countries into
sustainable systems, in particular regarding the spatial requirements for the generating units, is
poorly understood and largely underestimated (MacKay, 2008).
Today’s power grids are highly centralised. The emergence of micro-grids and distributed
generation runs counter to the existing system, therefore heavily impeding socio-political
acceptance. Similarly to implementing fully supportive policies for renewables (Sovacool and
Watts, 2009) the full socio-political acceptance of institutional changes needed for developing
smart grids will probably eventually reveal as the main bottle neck. Regarding innovation, close
connections of incumbents with policy makers induces strong inertia and retards the processes of
innovation (Walker, 2000). In the case of distributed generation, the system of the community based
micro-grid, which utilises as many renewable sources as possible, is still poorly understood in an
environment where all thinking about the electricity supply is centrally organised. With the onset
of distributed generation this centralised view no longer applies.
The problem is that the centralized view is institutionally anchored and therefore solid like
concrete. “Many scholars consider the very concept of organization to be closely tied to the presence
of a central director who has designed a system to operate in a particular way. Consequently, the
mechanisms used by organized systems that are not centrally directed are not well understood
in many cases” (Ostrom, 1999: 520). This clearly applies to renewable energy deployment,
where collaborative planning and community involvement have shown to be the key to effective
implementation. Simultaneously, community support for renewable energy projects, even when
rooted within the community, is neither automatically guaranteed (Walker et al., 2010: 2662). There
are no simple formulas of “what works”, and community projects cannot simply be replicated from
one place to the next. Because studies on embedding renewable energy sources in communities are
quite recent, our understanding of this subject matter is limited and requires substantial attention.
A determining factor is the geographical identity of host communities, as the potential for access to
the renewable sources is its spatial requirements (MacKay, 2008).
Distributed generation is at small geographic distances to the users. This implies that power
generation physically takes place in the close vicinity of the users, but it also increasingly implies
that generation is at small “social distances” when users become the owners or managers of the
production units in the micro-grid. Because the assets for power generation become essential
cornerstones of the micro-grid, there is a real option of an increasingly important role for the
users in the establishment of the micro-grid itself. The existing body of knowledge on renewable
energy 
community, and in particular to something that can best be called identity. These two terms must
be elaborated.
Distributed generation of sustainable energy as a common pool resource:
Social acceptance in rural settings of smart (micro-)grid congurations
First, we should notice that these concepts emerge when we consider the literature on the
process in which decisions about the establishment of renewable power generation are taken. For
example, international comparison of decision-making on wind power schemes, has shown that
collaborative approaches employing effective forms of community involvement, have proven to be
crucial for successful deployment (Toke et al., 2008). It concerns the fairness of process in these
decision-making processes and the extent of “trust” that is created, or unfortunately destroyed in
many cases, among the community members, the investors, and the authorities involved in decision-
making (Wolsink, 2007; Walker and Devine-Wright, 2008). The participants in the process must
organisation facilitating the process will act in their best interests (Aitken 2010). “Trusting social
relationships support and enable cooperation, communication and commitment such that projects can
be developed and technologies installed in ways which are locally appropriate, consensual rather than
 (Walker et al., 2010: 2657).
Second, successful projects usually are those projects that the community can strongly identify
with. This may be a result of effective involvement and participation in the siting process, but
high community involvement in the management and/or ownership can also be helpful (Rogers
et al., 2008). A study in remote communities in the UK revealed that among the residents and their
also better recognized (Giddings and Underwood, 2007). Warren and McFadyen (2010) found
that sense of ownership resulted in greater community acceptance of wind farms in rural areas of
Scotland. Generally, the issue of deployment of renewables shows the importance of securing good
community outsiders (such as energy companies) are much more likely to face resistance by the
community (Walker and Devine-Wright, 2008). As wind power shows, the ways of how decision-
making is organised, and how social networks at the level of the local decision are involved and used
to organise the initiative, strongly shape the possibilities for identifying with the project. This applies
applicable to local enterprises and authorities alike. For other types of distributed generation than
wind power, such as PhotoVoltaics or small hydro, it will be equally important how the geographical
identity is interpreted and valued by members of the community.
As Giddings and Underwood (2007: 413) conclude in their exploration of renewable energy
options for remote communities: "Vital to the success of introducing renewable energy is the support of
the local community. A primary aim of local scale renewable energy is community ownership and control
of the system through community participation." This observation is strongly connected with the vital
role of identity factors for community acceptance of any innovation related to renewable energy, and
even when this issue is restricted to rural areas, the variety in the social context is huge compared
to the variety in the technologies that can be applied. Establishing micro-grids in rural areas is much
more an issue of social construction than a technological issue (Gómez and Montero, 2010). The
question here becomes what the essential variables are in the identity of rural communities with
regards the establishment of micro-grid connected to renewable energy deployment.
Local and community identity will probably also apply as a key to local smart grid developments,
because identity is a strong factor for the determination of the kind of actors that will get the
opportunity to participate in the investments and the establishment of the micro-grid. The rural
identity resembles some particular factors that determine how communities will look at the ways to
shape their environment (Alkon and Traugot, 2008). Within a community such decisions obviously
concern the option for households to participate in any kind of distributed generation that is
            
actors in the community who determine the community identity for other reasons. These might
be, for example, typical community oriented enterprises, which in rural areas particularly concerns
farming, local shops, but also schools (Economou, 2011). Implementing a particular energy project
is thus, among other things, an ownership and community involvement issue, versus the acceptance
of outside investments and ownership of the assets of the new development (generating units, smart
meters, etc.). For example, at present about the issue of land use for photovoltaic plants there may
be an impression that PV would consume “too much land” to be practical. However, whether that
impression is correct will depend highly upon the willingness of rural communities to use farmland
(Chiabrando et al., 2010) versus the availability of other places for PV units, such as rooftop of
houses, stables, school and factories.
Obviously, the settings of rural communities show a wide variety. Seen from the viewpoint of
power generation, in many developing countries in vast rural areas many remote communities are
not yet connected to a public electricity grid (Karekezi and Kithyoma, 2002). Here, the establishment
of a solar or wind powered micro-grid, supported by battery storage or a small scale CHP (possibly
fuelled with on organic waste or manure, but often based on diesel) in a local micro-grid means real