Local Societies and Rural Development

Local Societies and Rural Development

Self-organization and Participatory Development in Asia

Edited by Shinichi Shigetomi and Ikuko Okamoto

The importance of community-based and participatory approaches to rural development in developing countries has long been emphasized. Rural people, who are economically and politically weak as individuals, can only participate in development projects when they are collectively organized. However, this is no easy task. This book aims to identify the mechanisms in each local society through which rural people can best organize themselves to meet their development requirements. It stresses the need to find local mechanisms that motivate and control the members of a new organization in order to achieve organizational goals.

Chapter 2: Composition of locality groups as the basis of local social systems: the case of rural Thailand

Shinichi Shigetomi

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, development studies, agricultural economics, asian development, development studies, environment, agricultural economics, urban and regional studies, regional studies


The introductory chapter presented a local social system as a set of locality groups, institutions, and resources in a local society. There must be a variety of locality groups, such as social organizations and local administrative organizations, each of which has a different capacity for mobilizing institutions and resources, including organizational experiences, into the local people’s collective actions for rural development. The differences in the composition of these groups were assumed to matter in the ways local people structure their organizations. This chapter examines this assumption by looking at case studies from rural Thailand. In Thailand, new types of development organizations have been created by the local people themselves and introduced by development agencies during the past several decades. Rural people have responded to the environmental changes stemming from the rapid economic growth after the 1960s. However, the way people organized themselves appeared to differ by region, especially in the lower central region compared to the north and northeast regions. In the north and northeast, the organizational activities for development usually occurred at the administrative village level. On the contrary, in the lower central region, the local people were more often organized in social groups other than local administrative units. Focusing on this difference between the regions, I here examine how local institutions and resources affect the process of organizing, which locality group facilitates these institutions and resources, and how the locality groups are composed in each local society.

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