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Clarion Congress & Hotel, Sirius


Dr Paul Cowie, Research Fellow, Centre for Rural Economy, Newcastle University

Topic: Smart Rural Futures: Will rural areas be left behind in the 4th Industrial Revolution

Keywords:  4th Industrial Revolution; Smart Rural; Rural Development Theory


The 4th Industrial revolution is the term given to encompass a range of technological developments that many commentators argue will fundamentally change society in the same was as electricity and digital technology did previously. The paper argues the current debates around the 4th Industrial Revolution are centred on the urban core with rural areas once again being relegated to the peripherality and the remainder. The paper therefore examines these technologies from a rural perspective and considers what impact they could have in rural areas, both positive and negative.  The analysis shows in many cases the technology will have just as big, in some cases a bigger, an impact in rural areas as in urban.  To ensure rural areas are not forgotten the paper then examines some of the barriers facing rural areas when attempting to engage with the 4th Industrial Revolution. These are both physical and cultural barriers and draw on many of the extant theories of rural development.  These rural theories also need to engage in smart urban theoretical debates and therefore the paper ends with a proposal to develop a research framework that place rural areas at the centre of a research program that looks at both the technological aspects pf the 4th industrial revolution and the socio-cultural aspects.

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