Perspectives, Measurement and Empirical Investigation
New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Robert Stimson, Roger R. Stough and Peter Nijkamp
Chapter 13: A Case Study Approach to Investigating Local Development Initiatives in Rural Small Towns in Victoria
John Martin* INTRODUCTION An interest in endogenous development comes out of the research undertaken on Australian small towns in recent years, in particular research on small towns in the state of Victoria.1 Studying small towns is problematic because they are, paradoxically, similar in many ways, but cannot be treated as such (Powers, 1991). Across Victoria there are some 300 small towns with populations ranging from 250 to 10 000. The future of these places has been the basis of much contentious discussion in recent years (see Sher and Sher, 1994; Forth, 2000; O’Connor et al., 2001; Stimson, 2002) and the continuing public policy response seems to be to leave them to the competing forces of globalization and their own capacity to prosper and survive. Of course, there are also many smaller communities, communities with fewer than 250 people, simply categorized by the demographers as ‘rural other’. A key policy question facing Australian state governments in recent decades has been how to assist small towns with the considerable change impacting them (Garlick, 2005). That includes change in the scale of agriculture, more extreme climatic regimes, innovations and improvements in transportation and communications technologies and the ageing of people living in these places as the flight of youth takes this cohort to education and employment opportunities and the excitement of larger cities. A clear policy preference by state governments for these places has come out of the social capital literature, especially that reflecting Robert Putnam, a regular speaker at state and local...
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