• rural regeneration;
  • community development groups;
  • Future Search;
  • democratic processes


The Future Search process in principle appears relevant for promoting participatory approaches to rural regeneration, offering a forum for stakeholders to conduct dialogue and find a common sense of direction. Consequently, a Future Search conference was organized in Devon, England, to encourage community-led rural regeneration, and this paper reflects on that experience. It highlights achievements but focuses on difficulties encountered in using Future Search where democratic processes are a key issue. The carefully planned structures of Future Search and the intensity of the conference process were found in some respects to be incongruous with the needs and expectations of the participants. The conference also revealed that action planning can be problematic when participants belong to different organizations. Therefore, the value of Future Search for rural regeneration would seem to be primarily in creating dialogues and establishing networks, with more limited scope for action planning. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.