Communities located in sparsely populated rural areas traditionally rely on prolific social involvement among members to inform decisions and initiate action. A challenge in some communities is that social interactions form strong social bonds between inhabitants that limit the full social participation of other individuals. Where there is a threat to community existence, previous research finds even greater restrictions in local social arrangements. This study informs on the social fabric of communities in rural areas of South Australia, at a time when many of these communities face social deterioration, disruption to local institutions and uncertain futures. Reports were gathered from small number of resident contributors allowing an appreciation of the persistent consequences of social arrangements that are found in rural areas. A deep understanding of the social mechanisms in communities in rural areas allows an exploration of the difficulties that pervasively limit the generation of synergistic arrangements between local and distant populations. It also highlights the historical, existing and potential dependence placed on social interactions to perpetuate the survival of rural communities. Through the reports of local contributors, the barriers and enablers in social arrangements are identified and their opinions are offered about local and societal mechanisms they anticipate will revitalize local development. From the contributions of inhabitants, conclusions are drawn to suggest enablers hoped to secure a prosperous social existence by cultivating being together in community.
Jillian Marchant, James Cook University, Australia
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