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Global-Local Linkages in the Community Economic Development Field


Community Economic Development (CED) is commonly described as a quintessentially local project, one in which communities reconstruct dysfunctional markets as a way of reconstituting social relations and building political strength. As social policy, CED emphasizes local participation in the design and implementation of affordable housing, job creation, and financing programs. From the perspective of progressive lawyering, CED - which is associated with a form of transactional practice focused on negotiating deals on behalf of community-based organizational clients - values grassroots organization, accountability to community members, and local empowerment. This emphasis on localism, although underscoring important structural aspects of CED practice, can also divert attention from the ways in which CED is embedded in regional, national, and global institutional environments - and how such institutional environments shape opportunities for collective action. This essay therefore seeks to widen the lens of traditional CED analysis by making the connection between the local context within which CED activity is ultimately played out and larger processes of globalization that structure opportunities and constraints. In particular, it identifies major global-local linkages within the field of CED, examining how they generate possibilities for grassroots activism and progressive lawyering, while also setting limits on what they can achieve.

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