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Making space for community in super-productivist rural settings

Mackay, Michael, Perkins, Harvey C.
Journal of rural studies 2019 v.68 pp. 1-12
landscapes, market economy, recreation areas, rural areas, sports, urban population, New Zealand
This paper contributes a perspective on an enduring debate in rural studies about the transformation of rural areas in developed market economies into more or less ‘productivist’ landscapes. We focus on the conceptual category of ‘super-productivism’ and its reference to distinct super-charged production zones that are fundamentally shaped by the practices of high input and yielding, highly technical, narrowly profit-orientated agri-businesses operating at regional, national and global scales. Our contribution to this debate is to argue that while super-productivism is a useful category for thinking about transitions in agricultural regions, under particular structural conditions, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that these highly intensive agri-landscapes are also home for their residents and recreational settings for local and neighbouring urban communities. Studying this aspect of super-productivism requires a relational perspective and a naturalistic research method. We illustrate this argument using a study of the Lower Waitaki Water Sports Park in the South Island of New Zealand.