Since the mid-1970s there has been a very real increase at all levels in interest and concern for the countryside. At public level this can be seen in the tremendous growth in the membership of countryside organizations and rurally-focused hobbies. At the academic level it can be seen in the burgeoning of courses with rural, conservation and environmental themes. At the level of public policy it can be seen in the development of policies regarding conservation, farm diversification, public access and housing, to choose but four examples. These changes of the last few years have not come about without historical foundations, even if these have so far been unappreciated by most of those with an interest in the countryside. Even those academics and policy-makers who have a long-standing interest in rural affairs often do not have an appreciation of areas which are outside their immediate sphere of interest. Thus the planner is too often ignorant of the historical development of the agricultural economy while the conservation expert knows little of the tradition of rural community development. This book addresses both of these issues. It provides a critical overview of rural change over the 80 years since the Great War, making clear the historical origins of present-day policy. It also provides a structural integration for the many diverse themes which must be interwoven in order to understand current conditions.
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