A substantive examination of rural community resilience and transition - A social justice perspective of a civil society
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It is well established that rural regional Australians have borne the brunt of globalization in terms of the adverse impacts caused by social and economic restructuring resulting from global, national and local forces. In response governments and communities have embraced sustainability and civil society for promoting local community action and responsibility for social, economic and environmental issues. This research focuses on community narratives about the social change processes as they engage the forces of neo-liberal policies. Applying a qualitative, grounded theoretical approach to data collection and analysis this study also adopts a multi-perspective, multi-disciplinary framework to gain more holistic, contextual understandings of community functioning and change. In echoing the principles of community psychology, the foundational, multidisciplinary concepts of sense of community, social capital, civil society, empowerment and conscientization have informed understandings of this communitys process and outcome towards transformational change. This study offers a critical reflection of transformational change in an effort to promote more peaceful, collaborate relationships between dominant and oppressed groups in expanding our understandings and solutions for community change. Identified by Newbrough (1992, 1995) as the Third Force Position, the ideals of political community are visibly expressed as they attempt to pursue transformational change towards a just and sustainable future for the community. However, while civil society has made a positive contribution, also apparent are the processes and outcomes which affect those most vulnerable. Those most powerless continue to suffer from exclusion, marginalization and as a result are denied access to vital resources to meet their needs.
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