Keywords: urban-rural dichotomy, rural development, segmented markets, flexible production, environmental sustainability, traditional food production, low-tech sectors, technological change, local innovation systems, sustainable development, diversification, local competition, networking, rural firms, learning, low technology
Multitasking in the rural world: technological change and sustainability
Charged by history and struggling for a spatial identity, the rural world may use specific sets of values to apply tacit knowledge and cope with an industrial model in transition. This paper prompts the opportunities for rurality in the metamorphosis of modernity challenges. Addressing issues like diversification, local competition or networking, rural firms are adapting by segmenting and moving towards less concentrated forms, in an attempt to integrate the marketing of non-commodities as the most adequate strategies for consumers. Such strategies that impose certifications based on specific know-how force locals to expand their knowledge basis and learning capacities, facilitating a more environmentally sustainable production model. Presented as a complex force field, the rural world suggests a new paradigm in which social participation is more demanded and local and regional actors are called to find compromises for the sustainable governance of natural resources and the advance of learning.