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'Respect the Life of the Countryside': The Country Code, Government and the Conduct of Visitors to the Countryside in Post-War England and Wales

Peter Merriman
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
New Series, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Sep., 2005), pp. 336-350
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3804410
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
'Respect the Life of the Countryside': The Country Code, Government and the Conduct of Visitors to the Countryside in Post-War England and Wales
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Abstract

Geographers examining the spaces of government and governance, and in particular those drawing upon the writings of Michel Foucault on government and governmentality, have tended to overlook the importance of different media, technical devices and practices of self-government to specific rationalities and programmes of government. In this paper I argue that the materialities and immaterialities of many mundane media technologies, the way they articulate and translate particular programmes of government, and the way they instil practices of self-government in citizens, are important but frequently overlooked dimensions of the geographies of government. I focus on the codes of countryside conduct - The Country Code/Countryside Code - that have been published in England and Wales since 1951. I examine how the National Parks Commission, and subsequently the Countryside Commission and Countryside Agency, identified the potential strengths and limitations of using the Country Code booklet to govern the conduct of visitors to the countryside. The paper shows how the material form of the booklet and methods of distributing and promoting it were seen to matter, and examines how civil servants attempted to extend the 'reach' of the Code and articulate its message through a diverse range of media which entailed different kinds of performative encounters in different spaces.

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