Several studies have shown that with increasing urbanization local residents increasingly withdraw from local public life into the private sphere of their homes and into remote recreation areas (Buchecker, in press; Fuhrer & Kaiser, 1993; Hartig 1996; Sennett, 1974). The villages thus mutate more and more into dormitory towns (Buchecker and Schutz, 1999, Krüger 1987). Many experts, in particular planners and politicians, see this tendency as a consequence of the global phenomenon of increasing individualism and a disbanding social coherence (Klages, 1996). Others assume that this tendency is caused by a lack of suitable opportunities for the residents to have an influence on the development of the community (Gensicke 1996; Kleger 1989; Habermas, 1981). In many Western countries formal procedures of public involvement have been introduced on the local level, however, they do not seem to be adequate (Godschalk & Paterson 1999). In order to examine which of these assumptions is true we started an investigation in two Swiss rural communities with similar characteristics, however differing in their degree of urbanization.