The migration of urbanites to rural areas seeking particular natural and lifestyle-related amenities is a well-known phenomenon within academic circles by now [1
]. The literature shows that such phenomenon considerably changes multiple dimensions of rural amenity communities, ranging from their structure and function to their identity, much of which threatens their sustainable development [1
In this study, we focused on the social impacts of this phenomenon, as we paid attention to the affected interactions between migrants and rural residents in an amenity destination. More specifically, we focused on how “difference” is constructed when migrants and rural residents share a common space and on how such differences affect integrated community development.
The literature is clear that migrants and locals commonly present different intrinsic socioeconomic and cultural characteristics, which externalize themselves in different forms of situations that range from avert conflict to acceptance and integration [6
]. However, to our knowledge, no study has deepened into the understanding of how non-intrinsic differences are constructed by these actors and, further, how they affect the community’s local development.
To better understand how differences are created, we chose the theory of alterity [13
], used to describe and understand the construction of identities and differences within the encounter of groups. A departing point to understand the differences formed by groups, according to this theory, is to understand the views that each group forms of the other. Such views affect the identities of migrants and locals, oftentimes translating into power struggles for acceptance and imposition of worldviews. Altogether, such struggles set barriers for purposive interaction and social cohesion, critical requirements for local community development [14
]. Accordingly, this study examines: (1) how rural residents and migrants views the “other”; and (2) how such views influence integrated community development.
We believe the goal of the study is timely given the need to move the amenity migration literature forward, a call recently made by [15
]. The author notes that, beyond understanding the causes and consequences of this phenomenon and categorizing and contrasting locals and migrants, the literature needs to produce applied knowledge that help us determine ways in which the impacts associated with this phenomenon can be reduced, mitigated, or avoided. That is why our attention is placed on understanding how the views that each group has of the other, affects community development. The interest in community development stems from the critical role such process plays in the economic, social, and environmental sustainabilitity of small, remote, and economically and politically isolated rural communities [14
]. The oftentimes-stagnant economies and limited institutional presence and support characteristic of many rural communities [17
], results in the necessity to rely on bottom-up development strategies to solve local problems [14
]. Particularly, in the context of rural communities experiencing amenity migration, locally-led development is critical to address emerging issues associated with the social disparity, inequality, and environmental degradation that are known to follow this phenomenon [4
To achieve our goal, we studied the community of Malalcahuello, located in the Chilean Southern Andes. This small, remote rural community was chosen given its early stage of amenity development, its aggressive influx of amenity migrants, and the clearly observed differences between them and the local rural residents as noted by the research team and other recent studies [22
3. Framework for Analysis: Alterity Theory
Alterity theory has been used to describe and understand the encounter of groups as in the case of the Spaniards and indigenous groups of Central America [13
] and western democracies and Islam [50
]. According to alterity theory, the encounter of an individual or a specific group with another (i.e., “the other”) leads to an alterity relation. Such relation reflects two important realizations: the other is separated from me and therefore is not me; and, secondly, the other is different than me [51
]. These two realizations, however obvious they may be, entail a dichotomized understanding and interpretation of the social reality of the other, affecting the interaction that exists between groups. As a result of those realizations, tensions within and between groups emerge as people perceive and interpret the other and his/her differences [52
]. Thus, the problematic of the alterity relation lies on the representations and construction of the other, oftentimes depicted as the enemy [53
], as an unknown and unfamiliar other [50
] as a barbaric other [50
] or as an exotic savage [13
To explain how those representations are formed, Todorv’s theory on alterity explores how the relation with the other is constructed from the moment they share a common space. The tension between the individuality that defines each other’s differences will be stressed by their life in common [55
]. This scenario is commonly seen in the case of migration, where distinct social groups start sharing a common space. Migration establishes by itself the otherness in the sense of an insider (local) and an outsider (migrant), and the relation between them can develop in numerous ways and complexities. Whereas collaboration is to be a form of desired integration, oftentimes the alterity relation of migrants and locals is based on domination, conquest, or assimilation [13
Alterity theory is useful to allow us to better understand how the constructions of the other affect two central aspects of community life: First, the construction of the other reshapes all actors involved and their views. Alterity theory states that every relation between an “us” and an “other” redefines identities, and therefore identities are conceived as dynamic processes. That is, the locals change by the sole interaction and common life with the migrants, as well as the migrants change by the interaction with the locals. Put in Todorv’s words, “the plurality of the environment is at the same time the correlate of plurality of the people of this particular environment and the diversity of roles that everyone has” [55:160]. This means that migrants and locals do not define themselves separate from the other, they are a result of this common space they share. Furthermore, Todorov argues that “this mutual definition and construction of one’s identity and the other is also pinned to the search of recognition, which responds from the need to submit the other to recognition” [55:40]. This recognition is a central element of community life given that as long as both groups fail to receive recognition or legitimation in relation to the other, the alterity relation will be a constant, oftentimes conflicting, negation of the other. Second, the redefinition of identities has a direct effect on how social cohesion is developed according to this theory. That is, the construction of one and the other plays a role in how those two groups think and value the other, affecting their interaction and formation of social bonds. Within an alterity context, social cohesion is key because it provides the ability for locals and migrants to embrace belongingness to the same community and space, as well as to resolve the conflicts and tensions loomed up by the “otherness” [57
Thus, alterity theory as a theoretical framework sees migration as an encounter of locals and migrants interpreting the context, the other, and themselves. The theory allows the analysis on how locals and migrants develop interactional processes and social cohesion, while defining the other and themselves. How the search for recognition unveils struggles for power is underlined by their interactions, valuations, and knowledge about the other and themselves in a common context.
That is, the complexity that entails the encounter with each other in a migration context demands a comprehension on how the self and the other are being understood. This is achieved through an applied understanding of alterity from a social standpoint, identifying at least three dimensions as proposed by [13
]. Accordingly, when encountering the other, differences becomes what defines otherness to each social group, and such differences will be reflected in the forms of knowledge
, and ways of action
. More specifically, these three dimensions include an epistemological one (what I know of the other), an axiological one (how I value the other), and a praxeological one (how I act in relation to the other).
It is important to note that the construction of differences in Malacahuello departs from an intrinsic/given categorization (or labeling) of “locals vs. migrants” or “us vs. them” which guides the majority of the discussions in the community and has practical/behavioral implications (discussed below). This categorization, we learned in our interviews, is more complex than simply defined by the place of birth or where someone grew up, as some highly-regarded locals were indeed, migrants. Despite that such “neo-locals” were born elsewhere, they were clearly seen by the locals as one of them. We noticed several elements that can help explain why they were seen as locals by the local population. First, these “neo-locals” were also rural residents born/raised in a rural community of the region, and to a large extent shared lifestyles similar to the ones of the locals. Second, these “neo-locals” have successfully integrated themselves (e.g., socially, culturally, and geospatially) into the community, making friends, living among locals, helping others, worshiping together, etc. Third, these neo-locals arrived to the community many years ago, before the phenomenon of amenity migration became prominent in Malacahuello. Thus, where these migrants came from and how they were raised, how much they have integrated themselves to the community, and in the stage of the amenity development process they arrived, seemed to be important factors for determining if someone is considered a [neo] local or a migrant. Particularly related to the last factor, Malacahuello seems to be, as expressed by almost every local interviewed, in a point of perceived “migrant saturation” where locals feel there are too many migrants in town. At this stage, migrants seem to be seen by locals as a group rather than individuals, limiting their ability to really understand or get to know migrants individually, their histories or aspirations. Numerous local respondents expressed more positive comments towards the first migrants who arrived sporadically and were able to describe them, their histories, where they came from, where they lived, their aspirations, and personalities as well as commenting having some sort of relationships with them. The same cannot be said about the more recently arrived and larger groups of migrants. We believe that, at this point, epistemological, axiological, and praxeological elements gain relevance for the construction of differences. These are discussed below.
5.1. Views of the Other
5.1.1. Knowledge of the Other (Epistemology)
In terms of responding to the question “what do you know about the other?”, locals seemed to know very little about migrants. Their common responses included that the migrants were people that came mostly from Santiago and that they were wealthy. However, several interviewed locals commented that the migrants were not a homogeneous group, categorizing them in two broad groups (e.g., a “desired” group and an “undesired” one, both which will be discussed below). Because what much of what defined these groups had to do with value judgments rather than with knowledge based on facts, the discussion of these will be provided in the following subsection (axiology).
Migrants seemed to be more knowledgeable of the other, but mostly about the historical past of the migrants. Several migrants noted that the locals had a history rooted in timber extraction, where the ancestors of the locals arrived to Malalcahuello following a land-grant program promoted by the government. Migrants knew that the initial colonizers exploited the forest and attracted a working class of colonizers based on colonial forms of domination known as the “inquilinaje” system. Several migrants mentioned that the individuals living under such system lived in a form of “pseudo-slavery”. Migrants also talked about the difficulties faced by the locals once timber extraction dried up, leading to high levels of unemployment, poverty, and high dependence on welfare.
5.1.2. Valuation of the Other (Axiology)
To the question of “how you feel about the other?”, local respondents provided an overall dichotomous answer reflecting two types of migrants. The first type of migrant was defined as an individual who was open to interacting with the locals, showed great concern for protecting nature, and was interested in living an easy pace of life. The second type of migrants consisted of individuals who were seen as those guided only by financial reasons even at the expense of nature, and who were not interested getting to know the locals or being part of the community. Individuals fitting under this category were seen as people living a fast-paced life reflecting their main goal of creating as much wealth as possible.
Locals stated their acceptance and approval of migrants fitting in the first group. Locals also noted that most of the migrants fitting in the first group belonged to a small number of migrants that arrived independently and sporadically to the community several years ago, before migration to the community became a mass phenomenon. Locals expressed being thankful of the positive changes that these migrants have brought to the community, as they were seen as more educated and with more capacities and resources that helped the community move forward into the 21st century. In that sense, the migrants that came earlier were seen as positive contributors for the community as they displayed attitudinal and behavioral characteristics that were desirable and good for the community.
Locals also expressed their clear discontent with the second type of migrant, referring to them as condescending, materialistic, only interested in the bottom line, and who exploited both nature and locals. Locals did not care for these migrants and brought up stories in which they were depicted as the cause of the current problems in town (e.g., high costs of land, population growth, and environmental deterioration). A local woman noted:
With the people that care for nature, we get together with them, we have good communication with them. With the others, we don’t. They don’t fit our world. We were probably raised differently.
Differently from the first type of migrants, this second type of migrants were seen as threats to the community. They were particularly threatening due to the power the locals perceived them to hold, as they were seen as individuals with the capacity to change the community in ways that locals did not desire. That is, migrants were seen by locals as powerful agents of change given their perceived higher education levels, their know-how, their networks in Santiago, and the economic resources they owned, which were automatically ascribed to their urban upbringing. Often locals talked, in a very bitter way, about how migrants had abilities and resources to do whatever they wanted in the community. Several local respondents complained about the ability of migrants to appropriate land and build/develop businesses, something that locals felt very unable to do for financial or educational reasons. A local woman speaking bitterly about the migrants doing whatever they wanted told this story:
We have been waiting for years to get our hands in a little piece of land [through a government-led assistance program]. But these afuerinos (outsiders) come here and in a few days, they own large amounts of land. One of them bought land next to the river, where I have been going to every day with my family ever since I lived here. After she bought the land, she threatened me and my kids many times to leave the area, but I never listened to her because I knew the river is public. One day she brought big aggressive dogs to run us out of there. I had to get the law printed and bring it to her to show her she didn’t own the river and that I was allowed to be there. Oh, it got ugly many times with her.
Upon inquiring which group represented the majority of the migrants, most locals stated that they consisted mostly of the second group: the undesired ones.
In the case of the migrants, they referred to the locals as kind, good, and with no maliciousness. Words such as timid, shy, and innocent were used to describe them. The owner of a successful tourism business said about the locals:
They are quiet, shy, honest, very good people, noble, with no maliciousness. They are warm, hard-working, they are town people. They are very innocent. Very lovely people.
However, migrants also described locals in other ways, using words such as lazy, drunk, and jealous. A few of the migrants openly stated their distrust and discontent with the locals, explaining how it was very hard for them to find a reliable worker amongst them. Further, the more outspoken respondents felt that locals were always talking about them behind their backs and cared little about them.
Highly linked to the axiological dimension of our study, we found that, despite the existence of positive valuations of the other, there was a prominent reproduction of negative stigmas in town. Members of both groups seemed to constantly feed their negative valuations of the other by reminiscing on negative memories of what members of the other group did wrong in the past. Oftentimes, members of both groups shared stories with the research team of events that happened many years ago to support their negative stigmas about the other. These included stories of how migrants took advantages of locals when hiring them or how locals stopped showing up for work in the middle of an important project. On the other hand, respondents refrained from talking about the good things that members of each group have done for the other, such as the multiple programs that migrants have developed in town to help the local children.
Some respondents believed that key local actors in town constantly reproduced these negative stigmas in addition to telling locals not to talk, work, or even relate with the migrants. For instance, some migrants believed that the local “elite”, the descendants of the landowners, in an effort to retain the local population in their grip, kept reproducing these negative stigmas. Another example includes the local municipal leader, who publicly encouraged locals to refrain from letting migrants “take over town”. Other respondents shared that some of the religious leaders in town forbid locals to mingle with migrants because they “were the devil”.
5.1.3. Relation to the Other (Praxeology)
Members of both groups mentioned that the relation with “the other” was limited and took place mostly in terms of commercial transactions. These included times when migrants for instance had to shop at the small grocery stores owned by the locals. A second form of interaction happened within the meetings in town resulting from membership in voluntary organizations (e.g., board of neighbors, chamber of tourism, and school board). Most migrants and locals described relations that were not deep, bonding, or producing strong ties. Most respondents mentioned they did not worship or celebrated together with members of the other group. For the most, each group kept to itself except when they could not avoid it.
However, although in limited occasions, there were situations where a deeper interaction, one that seemed to be leading to higher levels of communication and integration, were brought up during the interviews. These included the interactions between younger locals and the “desired” type of migrant (e.g., town space), between the local and migrant parents of children attending the only elementary school in town (e.g., school space), and between migrant employers and local employees (e.g., work space). For instance, in the case of the younger generations, the divisive and dichotomous discourse of “us vs. them” was not as prominent, and many younger locals were starting to mingle, date, and even marry migrants. Another example includes the case of the latter situation, where migrants and locals worked together, as some migrants purposively sought to hire locals in their businesses. Locals interviewed expressed their initial surprise at being able to engage in non-work related conversations with their bosses, followed by an even higher level of surprise to learn that migrants were not as “bad” as they had heard. Locals expressed how their view of the migrants changed within the workspace, starting with the simple practice of breaking bread with the “boss”—a practice not acceptable in the context of the previous employee–employer relationship during the timber extraction era. The initial awe of being treated as equals was surpassed when locals learned that migrants also had life problems and afflictions. A local man working for a migrant who owns a restaurant said:
I suddenly realized that they also have problems like we do. That they struggle with things as well. That they are faced with many challenges. I didn’t think that was the case, I thought they had everything figured out or given to them.
5.2. Effects of Views on Local Integrated Development
The limited knowledge each group had about the other, coupled with the negative judgments of the other (and its constant reproduction) and the limited interaction (and subsequent cohesion) between groups, have led to a situation in Malalcahuello where the “us vs. them” differentiation is noticeable and constantly fed. Within the context of community development, such differentiation played a big role in creating barriers for a positive and efficient collaboration between groups as productive and purposive interaction (towards the establishment of development efforts) and subsequent formation of cohesion was obstructed. More specifically, given the lack of cohesion between groups in Malacahuello, members of each group have failed to agree on development goals and have developed an apathy and distrust towards community development organizations. These two scenarios are described below.
5.2.1. Lack of Shared Goals
The interviews shed clear light that the differentiation “us vs. them” (further nurtured via limited knowledge and interaction in addition to negative valuations) was present in conversations regarding how members of each group viewed the future of the community. It was clear that the two groups had different goals. A local woman expressed this sentiment by saying:
It would be great if we all pushed towards the same direction. Things would move much faster. But it is not like that right now.
Migrants, almost exclusively spoke about their vision of Malacahuello as a top tourism destination. Their discourse was primarily permeated by themes revolving around things that would benefit the development of tourism in town. Oftentimes, migrants expressed their desire to bring in the local population into this “dream”, hoping that locals would directly or indirectly start working on different aspects that could ultimately benefit tourism development. Seeking this, migrants would commonly get involved in the community, leading organizations or telling locals what to do.
While some locals did not blatantly oppose tourism, and were actually developing tourism businesses, they had other priorities. These priorities revolved around a vision of a slow development that protected the rural, quiet, and safe characteristics of their town. A local woman who has lived all her life in the community said:
At least for me, I would like to see the peacefulness of this place to remain untouched. That is essential. I mean, people can come here to live, because you can’t really prohibit that, whomever has the money can chose where they want to live and if they like the calmness of the place and want to live here, I welcome them. I would like to see a community where we worked together, the ones who live here and the ones who migrate. But above all that, I would like to see the peacefulness of this place kept. That we care for our neighbors, that kids can go out to play or go do errands without having to worry about them…if someone needs help, we all can help, I want my kids to live the way I did. I want them to live in community.
Further, while the lack of consensus for the future of Malcahuello was a problem that emerged from “true” differences of desires and aspirations, we also observed such lack of consensus to be fueled by the separatist “us vs. them” differentiations which reflected the failure of each group to recognize or validate the other, their visions, and expectations. In that sense, the lack of consensus was externalized as a struggle for power in terms of which group governs/leads the way over the other. This scenario was present in the description of discussions related to the development and future of the community. An example of this was provided by a local woman talking about the president of the board of neighbors:
For instance, we have a new president on the board of neighbors [who is a migrant] who lives on the route to the volcano. He cannot possibly have an idea of what happens in town if he doesn’t live here. I don’t think we share the same interests, those that affects them and us. We have lived here all our lives and see the needs that our town has.
In other words, the lack of consensus in regards development goals can also be explained by a failure to recognize or validate the visions and aspirations of the other, leading to an almost defensive position in which each group protected their grounds and attempted to limit the amount of change/control/power that members of the other group could do/achieve/gain.
Given this scenario, there was a clear stagnation in terms of defining a common development route for Malacahuello. Members of both groups wanted to see something happening, yet did not know how to reconcile their differences, particularly in the context of viewing the community and the decisions that could be made for it in a dichotomous way.
5.2.2. Distrust and Apathy towards Local Development Organizations
The interviews shed light that there was a very clear community-wide apathy towards local development organizations. This current discontent with community development organizations was not always present in the community, as respondents reminisced of great work past leaders had done and the large participation they used to see.
Interviews shed light about the reasons for the current discontent which carried a strong “us vs. them” discourse. Reasons reflected changes in leadership (with migrants starting to become leaders of development organizations), frustrations over differences of opinions, the tone used in meetings, and the overall feeling that these organizations were not working for the benefit or interest of the common, but the interest of a few. Many locals expressed their discontent at noting how the goals that these organizations had, changed with the change of leadership, which they claimed was in clear favor of what migrants wanted. A local woman talking about her feelings in regards preferential decisions being taken in the board of neighbors said:
Many of them [migrants] are now leaders of our organizations, but their interests are not the community’s, their interests revolve around what they want, oftentimes benefiting particular individuals.
Further, many locals expressed their frustration because migrants were constantly telling them what to do, oftentimes in what locals conveyed to be a very condescending tone. A local woman who has been open to migrants and known to be a “bridge” between the two worlds expressed her apathy towards meetings given the tone used by one of the migrants:
This migrant comes in and says: “I don’t understand what the problem is. Let just have everyone buy a snow plow and put it in their vehicles and clear the snow from the ground. After all they only cost about 4 million pesos.” The locals, we looked at each other thinking, who the hell has that kind of money? The tone and the condescending ways of some of these migrants is simply something we could not take any more during the meetings.
A long-term man migrant who saw himself and was seen by many locals as a local, noted:
They [the migrants] come here to tell us what to do and how to do it. They don’t understand that we already dealt with all of that years ago. They come here to reinvent the wheel thinking we don’t understand how to deal with our own town.
As a result of these circumstances, even in the context of attempted collaboration, the support towards development organizations has practically vanished in Malalcahuello. Many in town, including migrants and locals, were extremely reluctant to participate in these organizations or support them.
Despite this apathy, residents clearly wanted to see the resurgence of these organizations, one in which they envision a joint effort between locals and migrants. A local woman married to a migrant expressed her desire for better collaboration in town:
Look, at this moment the only thing I would like to see is a Malacahuello where things get done. I would love to see, perhaps a board of neighbors or whatever you call it, that can run this town. That board should be well formed, with clear ideas and should have power to do interesting things, beautiful things, that have something to do with sports or culture…but for that we need a good board, with good leadership, that knows how to run this place. It would be nice to see a board that was inclusive, because in here that doesn’t happen. And it is not fair, I think things should be even for everyone.
Another local woman who has lived all her life in the community noted in regards her desire of a common ground for the community:
I would like to see a fusion between the outsiders and us, so that we can all work together for the good of the community, no matter where the ideas come from…More than anything else I would like to see an integration of people, from the outside and from here, that they join and push towards the same direction.
Altogether, local initiatives aimed at improving the community have happened in a context filled with division in Malalcahuello. This is caused, at least to some extent, by not knowing well the other, constantly reproducing negative stigmas about the other, and not significantly interacting with the other, all of which have kept barriers between groups high and cohesion low. As a result, there is a lack of consensus in regards to the development goals desired for the community and a strong apathy and distrust for local organizations. The lack of consensus extends beyond different visions and aspirations that each group has, as it is also fueled by power struggles, as the different groups fight for position and leadership that can potentially get them to steer resources and initiatives towards fulfilling specific desires. In a similar way, the apathy and distrust experienced in local development organizations reflect different aspirations, particularly as they set groups apart which engage in power struggles to impose their views and goals.
This study intended to better understand how migrants and locals sharing a common place construct views of each other and how this affects local development. Previous literature examining how community development has been affected in amenity communities has attributed socioeconomic and cultural differences materialized in the forms of different languages, worldviews, behaviors, and homophily as the a priori reason for a lack of integration in community development efforts [32
]. Our study found that beyond socioeconomic and cultural causes, which has been the departing focus in the literature, the reasons why groups fail to effectively work collaboratively, originate, at least to some extent, in the nurture of intrinsically constructed differences (us vs. them) in Malalcahuello. That is, the literature has correctly focused their initial examination of how differences are constructed by focusing on demographic variables and associated power behaviors/relations that accompany them [28
]. However, as found in our study, such initial differences are fed and enhanced through limited knowledge and negatively charged valuations of the other in addition to a limited and mundane interactions between members of both groups. Such situation has led to a social context in Malalcahuello where there is very limited integration and cohesion being formed between most of the members of each group—one that would reduce the barriers between groups as learned by the few cases where integration and cohesion were happening. Further, findings suggest that the found epistemological, axiological, and praxeological conditions in Malalcahuello have played a role in negatively affecting the existing community development-related efforts and obstructed the creation of new interventions. This was observed in the way such conditions reinforce a constant separation of groups initiated in the “us vs. them” differentiation, which subsequently materializes in a lack of a commonly-shared development vision and the apathy and distrust towards local development organizations.
While we understand that it is impossible for all members of a community to integrate, for a community to be able to elicit meaningful, equitable, and sustainable development, it is important to have high levels of participation to define developmental goals that are inclusive and diverse [43
]. This is particularly challenging in the case of rural remote communities like Malalcahuello, who has experienced a blend of distinct groups with diverging views.
In response to this scenario, a departing step for improvement is the “recruitment” of residents that already move in “mixed” circles to help foster a discourse that abstain from promoting the “us vs. them” rhetoric. This can be done through a purposive anti-divisive campaign or simply by forming groups and partnerships with members of both groups that can serve as examples. As noted by [66
] in another case study of amenity migration in Costa Rica, locals reported learning a lot from merely observing migrants’ attitudes and behaviors. As learned in our study, these circles include younger generations of locals and migrants that are either socializing or marrying with members of the other group. While this seems as a somehow basic strategy, as noted by [67
] rhetoric is critical for social functioning and development, particularly relevant in the context of change and migration:
A fundamental problem of human societies is to create unity out of potential diversity. Hence, rhetoric is a persisting necessity. The courtship of sexes, the socialization of children, the establishment of leadership, and the struggle for power are primarily matters of persuasion rather than genetic or instinctual programming (p. 74).
In addition to fostering a discourse that abstains from promoting a divisive rhetoric, these residents can serve as bridges between groups and help migrants understand that locals’ attitudes towards change and their discontent reflects what [68
] refers to as a historically inherited socio-ecological inequality that started with the inquilinaje
system during the times of timber extraction. This inheritance has social psychological repercussions that left locals feeling inept about dealing with change and threatened by what migrants represent in the light of it. As noted by a migrant academic that was interviewed: “migrants are the mirror in which locals see themselves and do not like what they see”. This entails that rather than imposing the migrant’s view of development over the locals, a common practice reported in the literature [5
], there is a need to open up space to construct shared meanings and a less divergent local identity, all of which recognizes locals’ issues with change.
Locals, on the other hand, can be helped, through the actors noted earlier, to acknowledge and come to terms with the broader social context in which they are immersed, and realize that processes of migration can hardly be stopped. Migrants, wanted or not, however, can hold key assets to foster economic and social developmental processes, as the literature of amenity/lifestyle migration has noted [45
]. Rather than retreating to futile defensive positions, locals can take an active stance in voicing their view and working with the migrants towards shared identities and goals. While a diversity of motivations and goals exists within the migrants in Malcahuello, many of them are highly invested in the community and hold enough human and social capital to effectively engage in dialogue, and in this way, negotiate identity, relations, and goals.
Residents tasked with these objectives can use spaces of fruitful interaction for these purposes, which, as noted in our study, are already present in Malcahuello. Such spaces are important to help facilitate a better understanding among groups and foster collaborative constructions of identity, relations, and goals. The interviews shed light on spaces where the relationships between groups provided opportunities to know each other and change prevalent value judgments. For instance, the school and the workplace were identified in our study as these spaces. In them, the relationships between migrants and locals were less marked, allowing members of both groups to interact, leading to a better understanding of the other’s views and hopefully leading to the realization of the “shortness” of dichotomized identities such as locals-migrants. At the school, migrants and locals meet and talk about issues related to the school and beyond, providing opportunities to share their ideas and feelings. This interaction of parents and guardians opens ways to rethink who are the “others” and who are “us”, establishing a praxeological space that allows a redefinition of the other/us in regard to new epistemological elements associated to particular characteristics and abilities of individuals. As a result, the fixed terms “local and migrant” become flexible within a context of more interactions, knowledge, and shifting valuations of each other.
Beyond the relationships among grown-ups, the school is also space where the barriers between groups can disappear in the case of the children. This is seen in the literature of multicultural education and inclusion, which describes the positive effects of better understanding and knowing the other upon interaction [74
]. Nonetheless, the sole interaction between children and their families might not be enough for a deeper understanding of the other [57
]. Intercultural education, which aims to change schools in order to promote equality between diverse groups through a better knowledge, valuation, and interaction with the other, can be a helpful pedagogical approach to contribute and strengthen alterity relations in a diverse community. An effective intercultural education requires firstly that teachers identify which dimensions conform diversity in their school, for example, gender, race, class and ethnicity; and then to understand how those dimensions interact and influence school and social integration [74
]. In this sense, the interaction between diverse groups within school-aged kids, when it is intentionally focused towards specific goals, might contribute to a better collaboration, sense of equality, and access to equal opportunities.
The other space found in the study where epistemological, axiological, and praxeological conditions are changing was the workplace. In there, migrants and locals were interacting and learning from each other, allowing the opportunity for the existing stigmas and lack of knowledge between groups to lose strength. As noted by several locals interviewed, opportunities in the workplace like having lunch together with migrants, has allowed members of each group to talk and build trust, providing opportunities for the development of relationships that go beyond mundane interactions. Nonetheless, it is important to notice that these interactions can be meaningful only if the power holder (e.g., boss) is able to establish a less vertical and more horizontal praxeological working relationship that recognizes equal grounds for the interaction among participants.
Thus, while the social context of town presently reflected a differentiated/dichotomized town, plenty of opportunities to get members of both groups to know each other were present. This can lead to the reduction of stigmas and better understanding of each other, which produced a baseline for sharing concerns and developing joint solutions through local development initiatives. This should be a critical goal of any development approach that seeks to improve the sustainability of local communities.