rural sociology


  • [13] While the mid 20th century saw rural sociological research in most European nations driven by government need, rural sociology as an academic discipline was rare in general

  • [23] For example, in 2023, the ESRS’s congress included working groups on diverse topics, including rural migration, population change, place making, mental health, and the
    role of arts and culture in sustaining rural spaces.

  • The Caracas Regional Seminar on Education in Latin America of 1948 established fundamental education as a system that would be “specifically attending to native groups in
    such a way as to promote their all-around development in accordance with their best cultural traditions, economic needs, and social idiosyncrasies”.

  • Post war, European academic institutions began to understand that “there was something useful in the activities of those queer people who called themselves rural sociologists.”
    [10] Stronger relationships between American and European sociologists developed in the late 1940s, which was reflected in the Marshall Plan of 1948.

  • Europe Now, a widely distributed mainstream academic journal, recently devoting an entire article to the intersection of European and rural studies, including articles challenging
    the continued applicability of the urban-rural dichotomy, land access, food, resource use disparity, and culture.

  • [72] Due to the popularity of Desai’s work and the expansion of the study of rural sociology in India, second and third editions of Rural Sociology in India were published
    in 1959 and 1961 to better represent new study foci and methodologies in this emerging field.

  • Practical applications and research methods employed by Land Grant Colleges,[6] the Country Life Commission,[7] and early American rural sociologists like W.B.

  • Hofstee, the ESRS welcomes international membership, including professional rural sociologists as well as those interested in their work and holds regular congresses that
    promote cross boundary collaboration and the growth of rural sociology research.

  • [3][4] Europe[edit] History of European Rural Sociology Though Europe included more agricultural land than the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, European
    rural sociology did not develop as an academic field until after World War II.

  • History United States[edit] Rural sociology was a concept first brought by Americans in response to the large amounts of people living and working on the grounds of farms.

  • Though early scholars of rural sociology in Australasia tout it for its critical lens, publications in the 2010’s and 2020’s have accused the discipline of omitting the experiences
    of indigenous peoples,[41] failing to account for class based differences,[42] discounting the importance of race and ethnicity,[43] and only recently incorporating in studies of women in rural places.

  • Hofstree, by all accounts the grandfather of European rural sociology, observed why cultural difference was of particular importance in Europe: “In Europe, not only between
    the different nations but also between an infinite number of regional and even local groups within every country, there are differences in culture, which influence the behaviour of those groups considerably…. it will take a long time before
    Europe will show the same basic culture everywhere, and I must say that, from a personal point of view, I hope that it will take a very long time.

  • [71] Studies focused on the changing nature of the role of towns, rural-urban actions since independence, rural change and what might be driving it, demographic research,
    rural development, and rural economies.

  • “[17] This departure from America’s more homogenous treatment of rural culture [18] grounded the field in methods that require community-level planning before technical change
    or community development can occur.

  • [31] By the mid 2000’s researchers focus had shifted towards broader sociological questions and variables such as the construction and framing of gender among Australian and
    New Zealand farmers,[37] governmental policies impacts on rural spaces and studies,[38] and rural safety and crime.

  • As a combined force, they were also tasked with requesting that studies be performed on conditions of social, economic, and spiritual nature as they pertain to the well-being
    of rural communities.

  • [82] The overarching theme of this first conference was “Globalization and Rural Social Change”; 200 participants from 11 countries attended, and 33 papers were presented
    and subsequently published in the society’s first volume of the Journal of Asian Rural Sociology.

  • [64][65][66][67] India, however, was not the only focus of early sociological literature on rural life in Asia.

  • The excerpts and records used “give the ancient evaluation of agriculture as being a means of group subsistence as compared with other occupations; they reflect the society’s
    view as to the relative rank of the cultivators in the social order; they depict ancient opinions concerning agriculture as an economic basis for the moral and social well-being of a society, as well as sever similar points.

  • [60][61] India was a focus of many sociological studies in rural areas, with Henry S. Maine writing Ancient Law (1861), which studied some elements of Indian rural society.

  • [77] Japan[edit] Though rural sociology is thought to have an earlier origin in Japan than in the United States, it was not until the end of the 1930s that sociologists in
    the country were introduced to the methods and viewpoints of American rural sociologists.

  • [40] Such a focus is particularly salient in New Zealand where livestock farming has historically been a major national source of income and environmental policies have become
    increasingly strict in recent years.

  • [73] China[edit] Before 1949, China’s rural sociological studies focused primarily on the rural class and power structures.

  • [15] Where rural sociology classes did exist, an emerging divergence from the American model presented itself in European’s treatment of culture as an independent variable
    in rural sociological research.

  • It says it is “the leading European association for scientists involved in the study of agriculture and fisheries, food production and consumption, rural development and change,
    rurality and cultural heritage, equality and inequality in rural society, and nature and environmental care.

  • [16] Critics were particularly concerned by the field’s seeming disregard for consideration of social interaction and culture, and encouraged a return to earlier modes of
    rural sociology that centered community structure.

  • [16] Outside formal academic programs, rural sociology organizations and journals were founded in the 1950s, including Sociologia Ruralis—which still publishes today— and
    the European Society for Rural Sociology (ESRS).

  • [82] Their mission is to “cultivate the development of the science of rural sociology, to extend the possible application of results of scientific inquiry to the improvement
    of the quality of rural life, and to exchange and generate meaningful scientific founding for the rural development in Asia.

  • Between 2010 and 2019, the Council for European Studies hosted only one panel on Rural issues (Farm, Form, Family: Agriculture in Europe).

  • [78][80][81] The rapid decrease in farming populations in Japan in 1955 shifted the focus of rural sociological studies in the mid 20th century to second jobs among farmers,
    farming cooperative associations, and the impact of community development policies on villages.

  • [1] While the issue of natural resource access transcends traditional rural spatial boundaries, the sociology of food and agriculture is one focus of rural sociology, and
    much of the field is dedicated to the economics of farm production.

  • [25] Despite these changes, focus on rural issues has been largely siloed within rural sociology programs.

  • The United States’ influence was reflected in pedagogical changes to include rural sociological methods pioneered by American rural sociologists, particularly statistics.

  • His work in Guatemala consisted of assisting public officials develop a long term plan for agricultural education; in Nicaragua he participated in the development of a general
    and agricultural population census.

  • It is an active academic field in much of the world, originating in the United States in the 1910s with close ties to the national Department of Agriculture and land-grant
    university colleges of agriculture.

  • This is due to the lack of land grant universities which heavily invested in the discipline in the United States and a lack of interest in studying the “peasant problem” as
    was the case in Europe.

  • [61] Sorokin makes these conclusions by drawing on records from these countries, which indicate study and thought about the sociology of early agriculturalists and those in
    rural areas.

  • [92] With a combined effort of inter- and non-governmental organizations, the ALASRU aims to “promote rural development in the region; foster the dissemination and advancement
    of rural sociology; support the creation of national centres to carry out research in the field.” • The Asian Rural Sociology Association (ASRA) was established in 1996.

  • Taylor’s work in particular inspired the Argentinian Institute of Agriculture to create the Institute of Rural life.

  • As a response, scholars, particularly in New Zealand (Aotearoa), have begun to focus on the experiences of the Māori in rural areas,[46][47][48] while likewise shifting from
    solving issues of farmers to rural residents.

  • [14] This was due in part to the lack of university agricultural programs but also a general resistance to applied sciences.

  • In this same vein, municipalities are drawn almost exclusively to account for the social and economic factors of the region in an attempt to create a more natural social environment.

  • Many rural sociologists work in the areas of development studies, community studies, community development, and environmental studies.

  • Other areas of study include rural migration and other demographic patterns, environmental sociology, amenity-led development, public-lands policies, so-called “boomtown”
    development, social disruption, the sociology of natural resources (including forests, mining, fishing and other areas), rural cultures and identities, rural health-care, and educational policies.

  • [61] He argues that caste is important for understanding agriculture in ancient India, and that the government and its structure can be used to explain the importance of agriculture
    and rural life in China.

  • [76] Influences from American sociologists were welcomed during this time and continued to impact Chinese rural sociological studies into the 21st century.

  • [27] These increasingly populated rural spaces are being met with greater economic development and tourism in the last two decades.

  • [20] This shift was driven by government interest in policy change as well as the perception that “backward [European] farmers [are] backward not only socially and culturally,
    but also economically and technically.” [21] After relatively united beginnings, European rural sociology faced internal disagreements about pedagogy, focus, and direction in the 1970s.

  • For example, at the University of Missouri the mission is: “The Department of Rural Sociology at the University of Missouri employs the theoretical and methodological tools
    of rural sociology to address challenges of the 21st century – preserving our natural resources, providing safe and nutritious food for an expanding population, adapting to climate changes, and maintaining sustainable rural livelihoods.

  • “[89] • The International Rural Sociology Association (IRSA) has as its mission, to “foster the development of rural sociology; further the application of sociological inquiry
    to the improvement of the quality of rural life; and provide a mechanism whereby rural sociologists can generate dialogue and useful exchange.”

  • [73] In India, rural sociological research and policies continued to be connected into the 21st century.

  • It has now dropped the term “rural” and changed its name to the “Department of Community and Environmental Sociology.

  • By the Fourth Inter-American Agricultural Conference in 1950 Montevideo, the United Nations departments of Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Labour Organization
    were given the responsibility of becoming more involved in those activities that would benefit rural welfare.

  • Rural sociology is a field of sociology traditionally associated with the study of social structure and conflict in rural areas.

  • Asia[edit] Early studies of rural sociology in Asia appear to first occur and be written about in the mid 19th and early 20th century, though the records of ancient thought
    on the matter of agriculturalists and peasants in rural spaces appear much earlier.

  • [68] It was not until later, often in the mid to late 20th century, that rural sociology as a systematic branch of academia and study appeared in Asia.

  • [72] The foreword of the book underlines the importance of understanding each aspect of society so that the Indian government could create “a uniform line of action for building
    a better social milieu”.


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