Value-Adding community? Community economic development in theory & practice
Taylor & Francis
Regional Professional Studies
Regional Professional Studies CSESS
As rural areas seek to diversify their economic base, there is an expectation that local community groups will play a key role in driving change. Bottomup models of social change emphasise local knowledge and local control of economic development activities, yet often fail to consider the larger economic and political context in which change is located, and the realities of limited local resources. Current practice among rural small towns in southwestern Australia suggests that the terminology of ‘community’ economic development, while highlighting the important issue of local control of change processes, can also cloud important questions about participation, scale, and responsibility for resourcing change. As one example, the paper explores the popular grassroots economic strategy of community, or town, promotion: questioning its assumptions, pointing out some of its inherent tensions, and suggesting the way forward to more creative thinking about the role of ‘community’ in creating local economic options.