Internal colonialism, social disorganization, and persistent poverty
Is Version Of
One recurrent theme characteristic of contemporary antipoverty programs in the United States is the need for effective citizen participation and collaboration between the local community and representatives of the governing agency. How do some persistently poor rural communities gain resident and community cooperation for community based antipoverty programs? I review the shortcomings of programs aimed at overcoming constraints in development identified by neo-classical theory. I review the locality-based policy of the Clinton-Gore administration, the Empowerment Zone/Enterprise Community Initiative, which was structured to mobilize the local social infrastructure with tax incentives and grants as inducements for collaboration to neutralize, perhaps even reverse, historical exploitative practices. Of the 33 persistently poor communities involved in round one of the initiative, I have selected the Rio Grande Valley Empowerment Zone (EZ) to assess the impact of locality based development initiative through the dynamics of legacy (internal colonialism) and social disorganization. I examine the relationship between practices of legacy (decision-making structure: formation and composition of the governing body; meeting location and hour), social organization (community engagement: outreach attitudes and activities), and the implementation of development goals (citizen participation and community-based partnerships).