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Reviews269 pie of a conservative shift occurring throughout the evangelical churches of the religious right. While these disagreements make it difficult to map the contours of the elephant, they underscore the importance of the other goal of the volume, to examine the enterprise of explaining itself. Yet that analysis remains relatively undeveloped. An astute reader of this collection will be left with more questions than answers, and perhaps with less of an idea than before about exactly what has happened among Southern Baptists in recent years. This confusion should prompt questions about what it means to "explain" a phenomenon and about the inescapable relation of the author's own assumptions and beliefs to scholarly conclusions. In her epilogue the anthropologist Susan Harding points out that the academic desire to "explain" fundamentalists may tell us much more about academic convictions than it tells us about the religious right. This is a crucial point, but rather than assessing the received notions of the authors of this collection, Harding makes the point obliquely through an historical analysis of the Scopes trial of the 1920s. If the conflicting accounts presented in this volume are to serve the purpose of analyzing the enterprise of scholarly explanation, it would be more useful to conclude with an essay that confronts these issues directly by invoking these essays as a test case. As it stands, the overarching goals of these fine essays may actually work to undermine one another in subtle ways. The South Moves into Its Future: Studies in the Analysis and Prediction of Social Change. Edited by Joseph S. Himes. University of Alabama ftess, 1991. 340 pp. Paper, $32.95. Reviewed by Dwight B. Billings, a specialist in the sociology ofAppalachia and the South, who is currently working on a project with Kathleen Blee on long-term historical causes ofpoverty and violence in Appalachia. Billings is a professor ofsociology at the University ofKentucky. The year 1986 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Southern Sociological Society. More than just a professional association of sociologists in the South, the society was originally established to encourage the sociological study of the South and thus to contribute to regionwide processes of social evaluation, planning, and improvement. This collection of original empirical studies, edited by the late Joseph Himes, grew out of a series of research reports given at the society's 1986 annual meeting, which was designed to assess social change in the South over the past fifty years and to predict likely trends for the next fifty. Perhaps because of the careful planning, beginning in 1983, that went into coordinating these contributions, this collection is far more even and coherent than many of the edited volumes that grow out of conferences. Taken as a whole, the book is a remarkably systematic and comprehensive examination of past trends and future possibilities of social change in the South. The volume is organized around four topics: population dynamics, status relations, social orientations, and social prediction and social action. The book begins with Himes's historical discussion of the dynamics of sociocultural modernization in the South and Jeanne C. Biggar's overview of regional population change. NextJohn D. Kasarda, Holly L. Hughes, and Michael D. Irwin provide an extensive comparative analysis of American 270Southern Cultures regional demographic and economic restructuring. These essays set the stage for the ensuing analyses of trends and future prospects among important status groups in the South. Gordon F. Streib reports on the South's expanding elderly population. W. Parker Frisbie and John Moland Jr. examine relations between Hispanics and Anglos, and blacks and whites. Patricia Yancey Martin, Kenneth R. Wilson, and Caroline Matheny Dillman provide an especially noteworthy and comprehensive analysis of cross-class and cross-race trends in southern gender relations. This study is an important start toward filling a significant gap in the literature. John Shelton Reed and Paul Luebke give substance to important subtexts that run throughout the volume in their somewhat contrasting assessments of orientations to social action in the South and the prospects for improving equity among groups. The book concludes with a less satisfying discussion by Himes and Abbott L. Ferriss of the potential role of social science research in promoting regional...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 269-272
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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