Evolving themes in rural development 1950s-2000s

Frank Ellis, Stephen Biggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

285 Citations (Scopus)


This article provides a brief overview of the major switches in rural development thinking that have occurred over the past half-century or so. Dominant and subsidiary themes are identified, as well as the co-existence of different narratives running in parallel. The continuing success of the long-running 'small-farm efficiency' paradigm is highlighted. The article concludes by asking whether sustainable livelihoods approaches can be interpreted as providing a new or different way forward for rural development in the future. The answer is a cautious 'yes', since these approaches potentially permit the cross-sectoral and multi-occupational character of contemporary rural livelihoods in low-income countries to be placed centre-stage in efforts to reduce rural poverty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-448
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopment Policy Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001

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