Can local government substitute for rural community? -An alternative framework for rural development in the context of the East Asia-

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Comparing the remarkable economic growth of Japan and South Korea (hereafter, Korea), many scholars have adopted the modernization theory and/or the stages theory of development. They argue that development is about the modernization of traditional societies. Moreover, it is also widely accepted that developing countries could and should learn from the pioneer countries that have already developed. However, they fail to explain the opposite side of the remarkable economic growth in both countries; namely rapid depopulation and wide collapse of rural communities. This study is an attempt to build an alternative theoretical framework for sustainable development of rural communities in East Asia, focusing on Japan and Korea. The endogenous self-organization that functions as a substantial social unit for rural development is emphasized. To accomplish this purpose, a case from each country is introduced and interpreted in an alternative way. The cases demonstrate that endogenous self-organizations function as a coordinator in policy implementation. While the two countries differ from each other in their method of local government intervention, the comparison of the two cases shows that rural development initiated by a local government cannot be sustainable without enhancing endogenous self-organizations. Ironically, it could be argued that no intervention strengthens the self-organizing capabilities of a rural community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-110
Number of pages11
JournalGeographical Review of Japan, Series B
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 1999



  • Depopulation
  • Endogenous self-organization
  • Japan
  • Local government
  • Modernization theory
  • Rural development
  • South Korea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development

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