This chapter discusses ideas and concepts in rural development in the context of theories, paradigms and debates in the parallel and occasionally overlapping literatures of social policy (SP) and development studies (DS). It interweaves theoretical and empirical perspectives to trace the evolution of the policy and practice of rural development spanning modernization, dependency and world systems theories to livelihoods approaches, sustainable livelihoods frameworks and participatory development. It argues that the analytical distinction between rural development as a policy and rural development as a process helps to better understand perspectives of SP and DS: the former is predominantly concerned with rural development as state policy, while the latter focuses more on the role of non-state actors in the processes of rural development and agrarian change in rural societies. The chapter then presents the case of a landmark rural development intervention – the Green Revolution _ and discusses how its origins, impacts and critiques are framed in different literatures. Lastly, the chapter summarizes key areas of convergence and divergence in SP and DS in rural development perspectives and practice.