This book has its origins in papers presented at the Seventh Congress of the Latin American Association of Rural Sociology (Associac¸a˜o Latinoamericana de Sociologia Rural, ALASRU) in 2006 in Quito. It is divided into three sections. The first is the most ambitious as it deals with some theoretical elements for reconceptualising public policies. The second section is on territory and political decentralisation, and the last section discusses aspects of the new public–private configurations in the rural world. With the exception of the first chapter by Alberto Arce, each chapter refers to a particular country. There are three chapters on Brazil, two each on Chile and Guatemala, and one each on Argentina, Mexico and Peru. While it may be difficult and perhaps not even desirable to have a chapter on every Latin American country, it is regrettable that there is no chapter on Bolivia, which has a rich experience of decentralisation, struggles for territorial autonomy and public–private practices in the countryside.