n Journal of Public Administration - Rural local governance in South Africa : towards a postmodern public administration epistemology

Volume 47, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Rurality is a central concept in rural development strategy and governance. The meaning of 'rural', however, tends to vary considerably depending on who employs what meaning and for what purpose. This article seeks to critically interrogate the extent to which the 'rural' and rural development policy can be conceived and articulated through the epistemic conceptualisation of Public Administration as a postpositivist, postmodern or postnormal science. The article argues that more diverse conceptions of the rural social architecture in the spaces referred to as 'rural' are critical to a more robust problematising, understanding and articulation of the challenges confronting the role of the developmental state in rural development in the South African context. It explores theoretical perspectives and discourses on the construction of rurality, with the aim of unmasking the complexity inherent in this often taken-for-granted concept. Further, it explores how rurality is constructed and deployed in a variety of contexts and attempts to illuminate the seemingly widely diverging theoretical constructions and understanding of rurality. By exposing these theoretical perspectives and discourses on the construction of rurality, the article seeks to unravel the multidimensional features of and the complexity of 'the rural' and to raise critical issues for consideration by public officials who grapple with the vexing questions of rural governance, social dynamics and public policy.

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