Social Enterprise in Remote and Rural Communities
Edited by Jane Farmer, Carol Hill and Sarah-Anne Muñoz
Chapter 2: Developing Rural Social Enterprise: The Relevance of Context
Sarah Skerratt CONTEXT MATTERS Contemporary literature around rural community development highlights the contingent role of context in the nature and success of development (Henderson & Vercseg, 2010; Mackleworth & Caric, 2010). Context is experienced at a local level, in terms of social relations (Oldenburg, 1999, 2002; Putnam, 2000; Hailey, 2001; Cleaver, 2004; Davies, 2007, 2009), and also operates ‘vertically’, in that it comprises the policy, legislative and sectoral landscape within which communities operate (Sorensen & Epps, 1996; Gray & Sinclair, 2005). Thus, as Cleaver (2001) contends, to focus solely on communities and their activities would incorrectly abstract them from day-to-day realities, including relations with a range of agencies and stakeholders. Communities, local enterprises and agents thus do not operate in a vacuum; rather, initiatives are often dependent on external directions and options. Research into the capitals of development (Flora et al, n.d.) highlights that political and bridging social capital are required – that is, individuals and communities need to know how to relate to those outside of their immediate sphere in order to shift their development trajectory (O’Brien et al, 1991, 1998). Rural leadership research (Sorensen & Epps, 1996; Gray & Sinclair, 2005; Skerratt, 2011) also points to the need for successful communities and leaders to acknowledge and work with wider relationships beyond the immediate locale. Given this context it is important that analyses of community-level activity development, including the building of (formal and informal) organisations for service delivery such as in the O4O: Older People For Older People project (that aimed to work with older people...
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