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Rural People and Communities in the 21st Century: Resilience and Transformation

Rural People and Communities in the 21st Century: Resilience and Transformation

David L. Brown, Kai A. Schafft

ISBN: 978-0-745-64127-0

Mar 2011, Polity

224 pages

In Stock



Rural people and communities continue to play important social, economic and environmental roles at a time in which societies are rapidly urbanizing, and the identities of local places are increasingly subsumed by flows of people, information and economic activity across global spaces. However, while the organization of rural life has been fundamentally transformed by institutional and social changes that have occurred since the mid-twentieth century, rural people and communities have proved resilient in the face of these transformations.

This book examines the causes and consequences of major social and economic changes affecting rural communities and populations during the first decades of the twenty-first century, and explores policies developed to ameliorate problems or enhance opportunities. Primarily focused on the U.S. context, while also providing international comparative discussion, the book is organized into five sections each of which explores both socio-demographic and political economic aspects of rural transformation. It features an accessible and up-to-date blend of theory and empirical analysis, with each chapter's discussion grounded in real-life situations through the use of empirical case-study materials.

Rural People and Communities in the 21st Century is intended for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in rural sociology, community sociology, rural and/or population geography, community development, and population studies.

List of Figures and Tables

I. Thinking About Rural Places in Metropolitan Society
1. Rurality in Metropolitan Society
2. Urbanization and Population Redistribution
II. Rural Communities, Institutions and Environments
3. Understanding Community in Rural Society
4. Community Institutions in Rural Society
5. Natural Resources and Social Change
III. Rural Populations
6. Youth, Aging and the Life Course
7. Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Rural Areas
IV. Rural Economy and Socioeconomic Wellbeing
8. Making a Living in Rural Communities
9. Farms, Farmers and Farming
10. Poverty Across Rural People and Places
V. Conclusions
11. Rural Transformations and Rural Policies for the Future

"With a half century of rural research between them, Kai Schafft and David Brown offer a sweeping assessment of the present and future challenges facing rural communities. They argue for the continued importance of rural communities in an increasingly urbanized world, and convey how urgently the United States needs a comprehensive rural policy."
Agriculture and Human Values

"Will leadership carry through on developing a clear set of goals and strategies, designed to accommodate the dramatic variations found across rural America, for achieving them? Will policy makers respond to and shape change that gives at least equal play to social justice, political regulation and sustainability as it does to economic efficiency? This book provides an essential foundation that brings us one step closer to being able to answer 'yes' to these questions."
Social Forces

"Well structured and clear in its arguments, outlining different aspects of life in rural areas: their communities and institutions, their populations and their economics. Rural and urban areas are compared and the development of rural environments over the years is outlined. The array of topics covered in the book is impressive and it is clear that the research done by the authors is vast and the level of details is meticulous."
The Kelvingrove Review

“Brown and Schafft detail the challenges of persistence and change facing rural people and places. Their call for a first-ever holistic, comprehensive rural policy for the United States should be, must be, a policy and political rallying cry for all concerned with the sustainable development of rural communities and regions in the 21st century.”
Theodore R. Alter, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Community Development, The Pennsylvania State University

“In this fast-paced global environment, it is good to be reminded of the substantive contributions that rural people have made to the well-being of our world. Brown and Schafft pursue a balanced assessment of the problems that beset many parts of rural America today, and comment on the urgency of creating a national policy and mix of programs that build on the strengths of rural people and communities. Yes, rural America matters and thanks to Brown and Schafft, we have important insights on the smart investments that must be made if we hope to ensure its long-term vitality and sustainability.”
Lionel J. “Bo” Beaulieu, Mississippi State University

“This volume is necessary reading for anyone seeking to understand the contours of change in rural America over the past 50 years. It provides a masterful overview of key dimensions of social, economic, and environmental changes, offers theoretical tools by which to explain these changes, and raises provocative questions about the future of rural America.”
Linda Lobao, The Ohio State University, Columbus

  • Provides a well-written and up-to-date overview of the core concerns and literature in rural sociology
  • Accessible blend of theory and empirical data on key aspects of studying rural communities in the larger context of society as a whole
  • Examines the real and imagined facets of rural life for both rural and metropolitan populations (e.g. economics, demographics, resources, as well as the rural mystique and ideas of nostalgia and tradition)
  • David Brown is a leading figure in rural sociology