chapter  6
22 Pages

Community Building and Expert Involvement with Reclaimed Lands in the Netherlands, 1930s–50s

ByLIESBETH VAN DE GRIFT

In the interwar period, the rural world became a site of social, economic and political planning and intervention. The situation in the countryside and the plight of its inhabitants had been a political concern since the end of the nineteenth century, raising doubts about the purportedly beneficial effects of laissez-faire capitalism. The Great War and the economic crisis of the 1930s reinforced pleas for increased state interference and led to an extension of state responsibilities into the social and economic spheres. National governments and international organisations launched inquiries into rural life and working conditions with a view to reforming the countryside. After World War I, the post-war need to secure food production and to protect contested border areas, as well as the extension of the vote, resulted in a myriad of schemes aimed at modernising agriculture and regenerating rural societies.