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Pratt, Eleanor E. and Warner, Mildred E. (2018). Imagining the “Good Place”: Public Services and Family Strategies in Rural Ecuador, Rural Sociology, published early view. DOI:10.1111/ruso.12231

Winner, Ralph Brown Faculty Paper Competition, Family, Community and Health Research Group, Rural Sociological Society, August 2016.


Recent scholarship seeks to lift up alternatives to neoliberalism that build community well‐being and a sense of place. This study follows three families in a rural highland Ecuadorean community and their investments in human capital, family businesses, and migration. It applies a human ecological model to show how complex ideologies around community well‐being, such as buen vivir(living well), are articulated at the macroscale and experienced at the meso‐ and microscales through investments in public services and their impact on rural families. Our collaborative ethnography elevates families’ voices to show how they both experience and envision community well‐being. We incorporate human capabilities and a community capitals framework to show how investments and ideologies flow across scales. We highlight the role of local social capital and regional territorial dynamics that support both economic growth and social inclusion. Our collaborative ethnography illustrates how rural residents imagine the good place (buen lugar), a resilient foundation from which they can build their family strategies. However, we find that lack of political and financial investment truncates active citizenship at the local scale, limiting the ability to achieve the full promise of buen vivir.

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Subject: Rural Development