Society & Natural Resources: An International Journal
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Indigenous people and their communities are often critical actors in resource development networks dominated by large-scale private and public sector organizations. Development policies and projects have often been contentious in Australia because lands on which development has occurred or been proposed are frequently areas of spiritual and traditional significance to Aboriginal people. Conflicts over development are therefore intense, occur in the context of a history of social and political exploitation of Aboriginal people, and focus on issues of symbolic value, local autonomy, power, and participation in planning. This article applies social assessment models recognizing resource development as a power network to the analysis of the social impacts of development and focuses on the political involvement of local communities as basic to social justice. Research results suggest that social impact assessments should include assessments of community competency to participate in corporate resource development networks and should study the institutional basis of local participation.