Rural sociology is a field of sociology associated with thestudy of life in small towns and the country. It is a scientific study of social arrangements and behaviour amongst peoples thatare distanced from points of concentrated activity. Much of rural sociology involves the examination of statistical data.
Definition of Rural
Sociologists define rural as those areas which are not urban . Ruralsociology, then, contrasts with urban sociology . Urban areas areusually defined in terms of size and population density . Theline between urban and rural is quite arbitrary. However, rural settlement patterns tend to be, relatively, small in scale andlow in density .
In the US , a rural region is one with fewer than 2,500 people. In Japan , a rural region is one with fewer than 50,000 people. Meanwhile, some places with1,000 people seem quite urbanized while other places with 15,000 people seem quite rural. Also, many "rural" areas are adjacentto very large metropolises .
Rural Economic Trends
Currently, rural capital is flowing into either urban areas or some 33-40%of rural counties, namely the intermountain West , the Ozarks , counties along I-80 in Nebraska , and the Kansas City Metropolitan Area . The growth ofwealth is concentrated near urban areas, transportation corridors, and scenic amenities. ( 2 )(3).
Rural America is also experiencing an economic slump, for instance in 1999 the pricesfor sweetcorn , wheat , and soybeans were all down about 33% from the 1995 - 1998 average . Food production is being subsidized byoff-farm income. Working second and third jobs is the only way many farmers can survive. In 1974 , 80% of farm operators were primarily farmers, by 1997 that had dropped to60%. ( 4 )
Natural resource-based industries within rural areas are experiencing resource depletion . The economic importance of mining, light manufacturing, and agriculture areconsidered to be on the decline within these areas.
Issues in Rural America
Rural society is faced with various problems including the environmental degradation and overuse of water resources, theestablishment and inadequate regulation of toxic waste dumps, and poverty . The loss of rural population to urban areas is also an area of concern, especiallyin northern states, such as North Dakota .
Fred Buttel asks, "Will we witness a further erosion of commitment toimproving the livelihoods of the rural poor?"
History of Rural Sociology
Rural sociology became prominent during the late industrial revolution in France , Ireland , Prussia , Scandinavia , and the US . As urban incomes and qualityof life rose, a social gap appeared between urban and rural dwellers.
Key Topics in Rural Sociology:
See also: List ofliterature on rural sociology
American Agricultural Economic Association , country life movement , European Society for Rural Sociology , Galpin, Charles J. , granger movement , Hibbard, Benjamin , Morrill Act , populist movement , Purnell Act of 1925 , report of the commission on country life (1911) , RuralSociological Society , Taylor, Henry , Turner, Jonathan Baldwin , US Department of Agriculture , Warren, George
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