Rural issues have gained national prominence in Britain in recent years. The future of hunting, the Foot and Mouth outbreak, farm income and agricultural reform and housing development have all claimed political and media attention, promoted by a vocal rural lobby and headline-grabbing protests and demonstrations. Combining detailed empirical research and case studies with theoretically informed critical analysis, this book provides an overview of the contemporary politics of the British countryside. It explores how and why rural issues have suddenly achieved such political prominence, by examining the changing politics and governance of rural Britain from the local to the national scale over the past century. It investigates the social, economic and institutional restructuring of rural communities and argues that we are witnessing not so much a rural politics, but a 'politics of the rural' in which the definition and representation of rurality itself has become the key focus of conflict.