The hope-reality gap: rural community officials’ perceptions of unconventional shale development as a means to increase local population and revitalize resource extraction

Tony J. Silva*, Jessica A. Crowe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Here, we examine the perceptions of unconventional shale development held by city and county officials in the New Albany shale play in Southern Illinois and Northwest Kentucky. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 18 officials before development occurred. Twelve supported introducing shale development to their communities, four were opposed, and two were undecided. Many view it as a way to overcome an economic vulnerability of their areas, population decline, by boosting the local population. Several also believe shale development will strengthen their communities’ economic specialization and social identity related to resource extraction. Although leaders held high hopes for it, most of their communities’ economic vulnerabilities are structural and likely cannot be improved by introducing shale development. This gap between hope and reality suggests that many community officials will be disappointed with major development projects – many of which are portrayed as economic boons – as they often cannot fulfill officials’ high hopes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-328
Number of pages17
JournalCommunity Development
Volume46
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 8 2015

Keywords

  • hydraulic fracturing
  • rural economic development
  • shale development
  • unconventional shale development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

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