Through the lens of an economist's notion of public goods, David J. O'Brien analyzes the dual problems of declining communities and polarizing conflicts between metropolitan and rural communities. This macro-level institutional approach requires a precise definition of the specific ways in which community-level challenges can negatively affect a larger voting public.
The author describes in detail how seemingly intractable community-level problems and inter-community conflicts have been substantially reduced by framing them in terms of the self-interest of a larger polity. Examples include The Federalist Papers, written in defense of the US Constitution, New Deal institutions created during the Great Depression, the post-World War II European Union, and more recent macro-level institutional changes that are assisting, in varying degrees, rural community sustainability in the US, Kenya, Rwanda and Russia.
O'Brien's extensive community-level research experience in urban and rural communities that covers multiple historical periods, will appeal to inter-disciplinary social scientists, development specialists and persons looking for a hopeful, practical approach to solving the challenges of globalization.