Community-ness of a major economic development effort in a biracial community of Alabama

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Rural Studies

Publication Date


Date Added



This paper uses case study data from a rural biracial community in Alabama to examine the community-ness of a major economic development effort and selected aspect of the ‘growth machine’ hypothesis. Results of the study suggest that the major economic development effort in the community was not a community-related action. In general, the findings provide support for some of the contentions of the growth machine model. Indeed, community can be an arena of action rather than a cohesive acting unit as posited by the ‘growth machine’ hypothesis and political economy models of community power put forth in the last two decades. The local elites utilized the community as a tool for the pursuit of personal gain at the expense of a majority of local residents. Capitalist development is divisive and the community, as (Molotch (1976) American Journal of Sociology 82(2), 309–332, 10) says, can be a ‘growth machine’ serving not the common good but the interests of those who manipulate that machine for profit. The implications of the findings for the future of biracial rural communities are discussed.


Public Health