Social Capital and Rural Development in the Knowledge Society
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Social Capital and Rural Development in the Knowledge Society

Edited by Hans Westlund and Kiyoshi Kobayashi

Social capital is often considered a key factor for local development. This book analyzes the role of social capital for rural areas’ survival and development in the current age of metropolitan growth – an era in which urban is the norm and where rural areas must adapt to this new situation and build innovative urban-rural relations.
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Chapter 11: Local responses to structural changes: collective action for rural communities in Sweden

Anette Forsberg


The starting point for my discussion in this chapter is a personal statement from a woman engaged in local development work in her community. Her words express views concerning what I will refer to as collective action for rural communities in Sweden. The woman’s words express feelings of hopelessness related to a political framework of ‘reduction hysteria’ that does not support ‘rural areas’. The symbolic sentences speak for this woman and her particular community, but are recognizable for other community groups and engaged persons struggling for community survival (quote from a newspaper article (ÖA 1997), my translation): No matter how many local development projects we are running we cannot compensate for today’s reduction hysteria in rural areas. It is like spitting against the wind, despite EU millions and cheerful shouts. Because all the time there are new circus-trains and clowns that with a sudden pencil stroke erase service, dismiss people and strike out much more than we will ever manage to build up . . . .

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