The article substantiates the criteria for assessing the role of identity politics and the potential of identity policies in local community development. Identifying this potential is crucial for assessing the prospects of a paradigm shift in development policies in a changing world order. The emergence of new cleavages in contemporary societies – due to rapidly growing digital divides and disparities between territories – calls for a new development agenda for different levels of political governance. Attention to intangible resources and administrative priorities for the development of non-urban territories has been growing in political studies in recent years, particularly, in the context of “rural” studies across different regions of the world. As such, identity politics are considered an intangible resource, and include policies aimed at forming strong local identities to promote community development. This research is based on an empirical study conducted by the authors in Krasnodar Krai in 2019 (8 focus-group interviews and 40 expert interviews in 8 rural settlements). Drawing on empirical data several markers of rural local identity were detected and described, and an identity policy matrix relevant for local communities was constructed. The level of involvement by various actors and agencies in the development of rural territories, and the character of the development activities, were the main criteria applied to discern three types of identity policies which the authors describe as reactive, proactive, and active. Their potential in promoting the development of Russian rural territories was determined, taking into account the unique socio-cultural and natural-geographical landscape, the heterogeneity of the socio-economic and sociocultural space of Russian regions, and the variety of institutional models of local community agency present in contemporary rural Russia. The authors advocate the promotion of “rural” (non-urban) studies in political science in Russia.
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