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Conclusion: Which perspectives for future research on multifunctionality of agriculture and rural areas?

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This last paper aims to summarise reflexions made in the preceding papers of this Special Issue. We will first show the common conclusions of the different reviews on multifunctionality, and discuss the global state-of-the-art: multifuntionality does not yet appear as a very stabilised concept, and its scientific use suffers from confusions with political discourses. We suggest therefore that research should detach itself from multifunctionality as a political goal and should instead consider multifunctionality as a useful conceptual and analytical framework. In order to support this recommendation, directions for this analytical framework are sketched out, by referring to three main elements which appear in previous papers: functions and their interrelations, reembedding agriculture in society, and linking multifunctionality and sustainability. From this global picture, theoretical, methodological and empirical research gaps are identified. To conclude this paper, we suggest other inputs for research on multifunctionality, from other disciplines which deal with functionalism, and discuss the potential of this concept for rural development.

Keywords: state-of-the-art, agricultural multifunctionality, multifunctional agriculture, sustainability, sustainable development, rural areas, research gaps, rural development

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