The 'local-global nexus' has, over the past decade, become a phrase which captures the essence of how social experience is increasingly defined by simultaneous processes of globalisation and localisation, and the subsequent development of links between local and global levels of action. Developments in technological, political and economic realms have meant that local communities are increasingly influenced by and drawn into processes which are global in nature - and in tum, happenings in local communities have been shown to have global implications. The challenges which these developments pose both for communities, and thus also for community development practices, are increasingly referred to in literature sources. There has, however, been only very limited exploration of the actual and potential implications of the 'local-global nexus' for community development in terms of theory, methodology and philosophy. Yet community development workers are located at what could be described as the 'coal-face' of realities at a local community level which now often have their origins in, or at least can be seen to have links to, global processes. Thus, this thesis argues that the 'local-global nexus' warrants further attention from the perspective of community development.
This thesis seeks to provide a foundation for developing a more comprehensive understanding and analysis of the 'local-global nexus' and thereby to explore the challenges the nexus poses for community development praxis. The research involves two stages, encompassing both a review of relevant literature, and an empirical analysis of how certain community development practitioners understand and interpret the 'local-global nexus' in relation to their practice. A review of the literature positions and, locates the 'local-global nexus' in relation to community development literature, and examines how the nexus itself has been conceptualised and applied to practical processes.
What is highlighted in these reviews is the silences within literature regarding how the 'local-global nexus' could relate to practice, and in particular, what its implications for processes of community development could be. The empirical research undertaken in this thesis seeks to address this silence by examining how community development practitioners working in contexts which could be defined as linking 'local' and 'global' processes, understand these links and further, how they are already engaged in practices which address both the potentials and the difficulties of community development within the nexus. The research approach is inductive and exploratory, and involves the qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews conducted with thirty-seven community development practitioners working in the field of international development.
The combination of the review of literature and the empirical analysis undertaken provides the foundation for the development of a framework of challenges posed for orthdox community development by the 'local-global nexus'. These challenges highlight: the need for developing complex, dynamic and contextual understandings of notions of 'community', 'locality' and 'globality', and of the 'local-global nexus'; the need for an exploration of visions of community which are useful for the era of late modernity, and can serve as the basis of building participative, democratic and sustainable communities into the next millenium; the potential for community development contributions towards developing a politics of space and place; and the need for the re-thinking of reflexive praxis which can address the potentials and the difficulties of engaging in community development processes in local-global times.
The thesis concludes with a consideration of directions for further research, implications of the analysis for community development education processes and possibilities for building hopeful futures for community development praxis.