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Opening Windows onto Hidden Lives

Women, Country Life, and Early Rural Sociological Research

Julie N. Zimmerman and Olaf F. Larson

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Peasants under Siege

The Collectivization of Romanian Agriculture, 1949-1962

Gail Kligman

In 1949, Romania's fledgling communist regime unleashed a radical and brutal campaign to collectivize agriculture in this largely agrarian country, following the Soviet model. Peasants under Siege provides the first comprehensive look at the far-reaching social engineering process that ensued. Gail Kligman and Katherine Verdery examine how collectivization assaulted the very foundations of rural life, transforming village communities that were organized around kinship and status hierarchies into segments of large bureaucratic organizations, forged by the language of "class warfare" yet saturated with vindictive personal struggles.

Collectivization not only overturned property relations, the authors argue, but was crucial in creating the Party-state that emerged, its mechanisms of rule, and the "new persons" that were its subjects. The book explores how ill-prepared cadres, themselves unconvinced of collectivization's promises, implemented technologies and pedagogies imported from the Soviet Union through actions that contributed to the excessive use of force, which Party leaders were often unable to control. In addition, the authors show how local responses to the Party's initiatives compelled the regime to modify its plans and negotiate outcomes.

Drawing on archival documents, oral histories, and ethnographic data, Peasants under Siege sheds new light on collectivization in the Soviet era and on the complex tensions underlying and constraining political authority.

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Pella Dutch

Portrait of a Language in an Iowa Community

Philip E. Weber

Founded in 1847 by religious separatists, the town of Pella in central Iowa is the state’s oldest Dutch American colony, and its crafts, architecture, and celebrations reflect and perpetuate the Dutch heritage of its earlier residents. Through his intriguing blend of sociolinguistic research, regional history, and interviews with current speakers of Pella Dutch, Philip Webber examines the town’s rich cultural and linguistic traditions.

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Power, Change, and Gender Relations in Rural Java

Women’s status in rural Java can appear contradictory to those both inside and outside the culture. In some ways, women have high status and broad access to resources, but other situations suggest that Javanese women lack real power and autonomy. Javanese women have major responsibilities in supporting their families and controlling household finances. They may also own and manage their own property. Yet these symbols and potential sources of independence and influence are determined by a culturally prescribed, state-reinforced, patriarchal gender ideology that limits women’s autonomy. Power, Change, and Gender Relations in Rural Java examines this contradiction as well as sources of stability and change in contemporary Javanese gender relations. The authors conducted their research in two rural villages in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, during three important historical and political periods: the end of the New Order regime; the transitional period of reformation; and the subsequent establishment of a democratic government. Their collaboration brings a unique perspective, analyzing how gender is constructed and reproduced and how power is exercised as Indonesia faces the challenges of building a new social order. 

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Prairie Patrimony

Family, Farming, and Community in the Midwest

Sonya Salamon

"Prairie Patrimony consolidates, refines, advances and grounds recent scholarship that challenges familiar platitudes about family farming and rural life in the United States. . . . No one should doubt the great contribution that Salamon has made to our understanding of American rural life."--American Studies

"[Salamon's] approach yields a depth of information about farming culture not usually found in the literature on rural America."--Choice

"Takes the reader on a cultural tour of a cherished American institution and landscape--midwestern farm families and their farms. With perceptive attention to detail and knowledge borne of first-hand study over many years, [Salamon] skillfully reveals the pervasive imprint of ethnicity. . . . Prairie Patrimony represents one of those rare studies that enrich our social vision and understanding in extraordinary ways."--Glen H. Elder, Jr., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Salamon's book is a remarkable contribution to the study of agriculture and culture, and its cross-disciplinary approach will engage scholars in many areas. For historians, it is a splendid illustration that different behaviors between American and immigrant farmers, planted over a century ago in the Middle West, have endured to the present."--Jon Gjerde, University of California, Berkeley

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Race, War, and Remembrance in the Appalachian South

John Inscoe

Among the most pervasive of stereotypes imposed upon southern highlanders is that they were white, opposed slavery, and supported the Union before and during the Civil War, but the historical record suggests far different realities. John C. Inscoe has spent much of his scholarly career exploring the social, economic and political significance of slavery and slaveholding in the mountain South and the complex nature of the region’s wartime loyalties, and the brutal guerrilla warfare and home front traumas that stemmed from those divisions. The essays here embrace both facts and fictions related to those issues, often conveyed through intimate vignettes that focus on individuals, families, and communities, keeping the human dimension at the forefront of his insights and analysis. Drawing on the memories, memoirs, and other testimony of slaves and free blacks, slaveholders and abolitionists, guerrilla warriors, invading armies, and the highland civilians they encountered, Inscoe considers this multiplicity of perspectives and what is revealed about highlanders’ dual and overlapping identities as both a part of, and distinct from, the South as a whole. He devotes attention to how the truths derived from these contemporary voices were exploited, distorted, reshaped, reinforced, or ignored by later generations of novelists, journalists, filmmakers, dramatists, and even historians with differing agendas over the course of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His cast of characters includes John Henry, Frederick Law Olmsted and John Brown, Andrew Johnson and Zebulon Vance, and those who later interpreted their stories—John Fox and John Ehle, Thomas Wolfe and Charles Frazier, Emma Bell Miles and Harry Caudill, Carter Woodson and W. J. Cash, Horace Kephart and John C. Campbell, even William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. Their work and that of many others have contributed much to either our understanding—or misunderstanding—of nineteenth century Appalachia and its place in the American imagination.

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Reactions to the Market

Small Farmers in the Economic Reshaping of Nicaragua, Cuba, Russia, and China

Laura J. Enríquez

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Remaking the Heartland

Middle America since the 1950s

Robert Wuthnow

For many Americans, the Midwest is a vast unknown. In Remaking the Heartland, Robert Wuthnow sets out to rectify this. He shows how the region has undergone extraordinary social transformations over the past half-century and proven itself surprisingly resilient in the face of such hardships as the Great Depression and the movement of residents to other parts of the country. He examines the heartland's reinvention throughout the decades and traces the social and economic factors that have helped it to survive and prosper.

Wuthnow points to the critical strength of the region's social institutions established between 1870 and 1950--the market towns, farmsteads, one-room schoolhouses, townships, rural cooperatives, and manufacturing centers that have adapted with the changing times. He focuses on farmers' struggles to recover from the Great Depression well into the 1950s, the cultural redefinition and modernization of the region's image that occurred during the 1950s and 1960s, the growth of secondary and higher education, the decline of small towns, the redeployment of agribusiness, and the rapid expansion of edge cities. Drawing his arguments from extensive interviews and evidence from the towns and counties of the Midwest, Wuthnow provides a unique perspective as both an objective observer and someone who grew up there.

Remaking the Heartland offers an accessible look at the humble yet strong foundations that have allowed the region to endure undiminished.

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Rural America in a Globalizing World

Problems and Prospects for the 2010's

edited by Conner Bailey, Leif Jensen, and Elizabeth Ransom

This fourth Rural Sociological Society decennial volume provides advanced policy scholarship on rural North America during the 2010’s, closely reflecting upon the increasingly global nature of social, cultural, and economic forces and the impact of neoliberal ideology upon policy, politics, and power in rural areas.

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Rural and Small Town America

Important differences persist between rural and urban America, despite profound economic changes and the notorious homogenizing influence of the media. As Glenn V. Fuguitt, David L. Brown, and Calvin L. Beale show in Rural and Small Town America, the much-heralded disappearance of small town life has not come to pass, and the nonmetropolitan population still constitutes a significant dimension of our nation's social structure.

Based on census and other recent survey data, this impressive study provides a detailed and comparative picture of rural America. The authors find that size of place is a critical demographic factor, affecting population composition (rural populations are older and more predominantly male than urban populations), the distribution of poverty (urban poverty tends to be concentrated in neighborhoods; rural poverty may extend over large blocks of counties), and employment opportunities (job quality and income are lower in rural areas, though rural occupational patterns are converging with those of urban areas). In general, rural and small town America still lags behind urban America on many indicators of social well-being. Pointing out that rural life is no longer synonymous with farming, the authors explore variations among nonmetropolitan populations. They also trace the impact of major national trends—the nonmetropolitan growth spurt of the 1970s and its current reversal, for example, or changing fertility rates—on rural life and on the relationship between metropolitan and nonmetropolitan communities.

By describing the special characteristics and needs of rural populations as well as the features they share with urban America, this book clearly demonstrates that a more accurate picture of nonmetropolitan life is essential to understanding the larger dynamics of our society.

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series

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