Delivering on the Concept of Smart Villages – in Search of an Enabling Theory

Bill Slee 1
  • 1 James Hutton Institute and Associate, the Rural Development Company,


Smart villages have been increasingly heralded as a development strategy for the European countryside but with no clear understanding as to what comprises a smart village. Frequently, commentators associate smartness with quality of IT infrastructure and the ability to use it. An alternative perspective argues that the smartness can be better understood as a phenomenon associated with self-organised, bottom-up community action that either addresses the weaknesses of both state and market to contribute to local people’s wellbeing or exploits emergent opportunities through collective means. Using Scotland as an example, policy architectures can now be seen to be explicitly designed to support bottom-up community action. This paper explores this alternative notion of smartness based on communities’ capacities to self-organise and deliver a range of developments that support wellbeing and resilience and explores some of the challenges arising from this approach.

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