"Do you remember the time you and your friends started a secret club and didn’t
let anyone else join? Well, it’s kind of like that in some small rural
communities. Even though these communities really need to attract and keep
newcomers, some longstanding residents belong to a special “locals” club. Many
newcomers who moved from the cities in recent years would know this all too
My research to understand the experience of newcomers in small towns found a
few common themes in what happened to them. It found social identity was a
factor that can often inhibit progress, resilience and acceptance of change in
rural social groups.
Locals are regarded as the legitimate residents and often have greater local
power and privileged status. They can be used to calling the shots for the
community. They may hold back change by undermining or failing to accept or
support new people, their ideas or businesses.
Newcomers can be intrinsically disruptive to the old and comfortable social
norms of small towns. While newcomers want to show their value as residents by
offering their new ideas or experience, these are not welcomed by locals
because they disrupt the status quo and make them uncomfortable.
I interviewed 89 residents and recent residents in two rural Queensland
communities with populations under 2,000. The locals often say newcomers or
outsiders don’t have a right to have a say about the town and certainly not to
make changes. They question their social legitimacy and tell stories of their
inferiority as residents.
Even when newcomers manage to make a difference, the locals can ignore,
criticise or undermine their achievements."
Via Muse, who wrote "This happens on a national level as well, when it comes to
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics