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Small Town Cover

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Small Town

Granville Hicks

Granville Hicks was one of America's most influential literary and social critics. Along with Malcolm Cowley, F. O. Matthiessen, Max Eastman, Alfred Kazin, and others, he shaped the cultural landscape of 20th-century America. In 1946 Hicks published Small Town, a portrait of life in the rural crossroads of Grafton, N.Y., where he had moved after being fired from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for his left-wing political views. In this book, he combines a kind of hand-crafted ethnographic research with personal reflections on the qualities of small town life that were being threatened by spreading cities and suburbs. He eloquently tried to define the essential qualities of small town community life and to link them to the best features of American culture. The book sparked numerous articles and debates in a baby-boom America nervously on the move.Long out of print, this classic of cultural criticism speaks powerfully to a new generation seeking to reconnect with a sense of place in American life, both rural and urban. An unaffected, deeply felt portrait of one such place by one of the best American critics, it should find a new home as a vivid reminder of what we have lost-and what we might still be able to protect.

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Something's Rising

Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal

Silas House

Like an old-fashioned hymn sung in rounds, Something’s Rising gives a stirring voice to the lives, culture, and determination of the people fighting the destructive practice of mountaintop removal in the coalfields of central Appalachia. Each person’s story, unique and unfiltered, articulates the hardship of living in these majestic mountains amid the daily desecration of the land by the coal industry because of America’s insistence on cheap energy. Developed as an alternative to strip mining, mountaintop removal mining consists of blasting away the tops of mountains, dumping waste into the valleys, and retrieving the exposed coal. This process buries streams, pollutes wells and waterways, and alters fragile ecologies in the region. The people who live, work, and raise families in central Appalachia face not only the physical destruction of their land but also the loss of their culture and health in a society dominated by the consequences of mountaintop removal. Included here are oral histories from Jean Ritchie, “the mother of folk,” who doesn’t let her eighty-six years slow down her fighting spirit; Judy Bonds, a tough-talking coal-miner’s daughter; Kathy Mattea, the beloved country singer who believes cooperation is the key to winning the battle; Jack Spadaro, the heroic whistle-blower who has risked everything to share his insider knowledge of federal mining agencies; Larry Bush, who doesn’t back down even when speeding coal trucks are used to intimidate him; Denise Giardina, a celebrated writer who ran for governor to bring attention to the issue; and many more. The book features both well-known activists and people rarely in the media. Each oral history is prefaced with a biographical essay that vividly establishes the interview settings and the subjects’ connections to their region. Written and edited by native sons of the mountains, this compelling book captures a fever-pitch moment in the movement against mountaintop removal. Silas House and Jason Howard are experts on the history of resistance in Appalachia, the legacy of exploitation of the region’s natural resources, and area’s unique culture and landscape. This lyrical and informative text provides a critical perspective on a powerful industry. The cumulative effect of these stories is stunning and powerful. Something’s Rising will long stand as a testament to the social and ecological consequences of energy at any cost and will be especially welcomed by readers of Appalachian studies, environmental science, and by all who value the mountain’s majesty—our national heritage.

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Those Who Work, Those Who Don't

Poverty, Morality, and Family in Rural America

Jennifer Sherman

When the rural poor prioritize issues such as the right to bear arms, and disapprove of welfare despite their economic concerns, they are often dismissed as uneducated and backward by academics and political analysts. In Those Who Work, Those Who Don't, Jennifer Sherman offers a much-needed sympathetic understanding of poor rural Americans, persuasively arguing that the growing cultural significance of moral values is a reasonable and inevitable response to economic collapse and political powerlessness.

Those Who Work, Those Who Don't is based on the intimate interviews and in-depth research Sherman conducted while spending a year living in "Golden Valley," a remote logging town in Northern California. Economically devastated by the 1990 ruling that listed the northern spotted owl as a threatened species, Golden Valley proved to be a rich case study for Sherman. She looks at how the members of the community coped with downward mobility caused by the loss of timber industry jobs and examines a wide range of reactions. She shows how substance abuse, domestic violence, and gender roles fluctuated under the town's economic strain.

Compellingly written, shot through with honesty and empathy, Those Who Work, Those Who Don't is a rare firsthand account that studies the rural poor. As incomes erode and the American dream becomes more and more inaccessible, Sherman reveals that moral values and practices become a way for the poor to gain status and maintain a sense of dignity in the face of economic ruin.

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Toward One Oregon

Rural-Urban Interdependence and the Evolution of a State

Edited by Michael Hibbard, Ethan Seltzer, Bruce Weber, and Beth Emshoff

Every state in the nation has geographic divisions that loom large as barriers to common cause. In Oregon, the so-called “rural-urban divide” has shaped its history. Toward One Oregon examines the prospects for uniting our geographically diverse state in the years ahead.

When Oregon became a state in 1859, its role in the nation and the global economy was quite different than it is today. Current times demand a new, strategic understanding of the state and its role in the nation and the world if its people—all of its people—are to thrive.

Toward One Oregon examines Oregon’s urban and rural history through political, economic, and demographic lenses. The contributors—historians, urban planners, economists, geographers, and political scientists—explore the two Oregons. Using the best of urban and rural policies in strategic and complementary ways, they offer a collaborative path forward—for Oregon and for any state faced with seemingly insurmountable geographic divisions.

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Under the Shadow of Nationalism

Politics and Poetics of Rural Japanese Women

Mariko A. Tamanoi

The contribution of rural women to the creation and expansion of the Japanese nation-state is undeniable. As early as the nineteenth century, the women of central Japan's Nagano prefecture in particular provided abundant and cheap labor for a number of industries, most notably the silk spinning industry. Rural women from Nagano could also be found working, from a very young age, as nursemaids, domestic servants, and farm laborers. In whatever capacity they worked, these women became the objects of scrutiny and reform in a variety of nationalist discourses--not only because of the importance of their labor to the nation, but also because of their gender and domicile (the countryside was the centerpiece of state ideology and practice before and during the war, during the Occupation, and beyond). Under the Shadow of Nationalism explores the interconnectedness of nationalism and gender in the context of modern Japan. It combines the author's long-term field research with a painstaking examination of the documents behind these discourses produced at various levels of society, from the national (government records, social reformers' reports, ethnographic data) to the local (teachers' manuals, labor activists' accounts, village newspapers). It provides a wide-ranging yet in-depth look at a key group of Japanese women as national subjects through the critical chapters of Japanese modernity and postmodernity.

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Upland Transformations in Vietnam

Thomas Sikor, Nghiem Phuong Tuyen, Jennifer Sowerwine and Jeff Romm

Upland Transformations in Vietnam considers the effects of economic development, authority formation and landscape change on the country's "uplands". By positioning the uplands as an integral part of political, economic and cultural processes at the national and international levels, the book shatters stereotypes of upland regions as a separate ethnic and biophysical realm, and calls into question the assumptions that have informed research on upland areas and post-socialist transitions, and government policy for these regions. Movements from customary to state authority or from a subsistence to a commoditized economy are neither automatic nor uniform. The case studies in this book show that events in Vietnam's uplands mirror the country's cultures, organization, landscapes and larger political economy. Negotiations over authority and economy in the uplands recursively contribute to larger processes constituting the Vietnamese state and generating social inequalities. The Vietnamese experience thus provides valuable lessons applicable to research on upland regions and post-socialist transformations in other parts of the world. The book features work by young Vietnamese and foreign scholars deeply engaged with research on upland livelihoods and ecosystems in Vietnam. These emerging experts present cutty-edge analyses of negotiations over land, forest politics, trade relations, tourism, migration, social differentiation and cultural imaginaries based on research conducted in all major upland regions of Vietnam, including the Northern Mountains, the Truong Son Mountains and the Central Highlands.

Voices from the Heart of the Land Cover

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Voices from the Heart of the Land

Rural Stories that Inspire Community

Richard L. Cates Jr.

From 2001 to 2006, Richard L. Cates Jr. interviewed senior members of more than 30 families living in and around Arena township, a small community in southern Wisconsin. He asked them about growing up in rural America and their connection to a way of life that is vanishing in the twenty-first century.
The result, Voices from the Heart of the Land, is a collection of reminiscences, observations, and opinions celebrating the stewardship of the land and the values of the stewards. Of course, as Cates points out, these are nothing less than “our core human values—integrity, commitment, responsibility, citizenship, self-determination, decency, kindness, love, and hope.”

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Wearing Cultural Styles in Japan

Concepts of Tradition and Modernity in Practice

This groundbreaking collection examines the regional dynamics of state societies, looking at how people use the concepts of urban and rural, traditional and modern, and industrial and agricultural to define their existence and the experience of living in contemporary Japanese society. The book focuses on the Toµhoku (Northeast) region, which many Japanese consider rural, agrarian, undeveloped economically, and the epitome of the traditional way of life. While this stereotype overstates the case—the region is home to one of Japan’s largest cities—most Japanese contrast Toµhoku (everything traditional) with Tokyo (everything modern). However, the contributors show how various regional phenomena—internationalization, lacquerware production, farming, enka (modern Japanese ballads), women’s roles, and professional dance—combine the traditional, the modern, and the global. Wearing Cultural Styles in Japan demonstrates that while people use the dichotomies of urban/rural and traditional/modern in order to define their experiences, these categories are no longer useful in analyzing contemporary Japan.

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Welfare Reform in Persistent Rural Poverty

Dreams, Disenchantments, and Diversity

Kathleen Pickering, Mark H. Harvey, Gene F. Summers, and David Mushinski

Since the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 was enacted, policy makers, agency administrators, community activists, and academics from a broad range of disciplines have debated and researched the implications of welfare reform in the United States. Most of the attention, however, has focused on urban rather than rural America. Welfare Reform in Persistent Rural Poverty examines welfare participants who live in chronically poor rural areas of the United States where there are few job opportunities and poor systems of education, transportation, and child care.Kathleen Pickering and her colleagues look at welfare reform as it has been experienced in four rural and impoverished regions of the United States: American Indian reservations in South Dakota, the Rio Grande region, Appalachian Kentucky, and the Mississippi Delta. Throughout these areas the rhetoric of reform created expectations of new opportunities to find decent work and receive education and training. In fact, these expectations have largely gone unfulfilled as welfare reform has failed to penetrate poor areas where low-income families remain isolated from the economic and social mainstream of American society. Welfare Reform in Persistent Rural Poverty sheds welcome light on the opportunities and challenges that welfare reform has imposed on low-income families situated in disadvantaged areas. Combining both qualitative and quantitative research, it will be an excellent guide for scholars and practitioners alike seeking to address the problem of poverty in rural America.

Why Rural Schools Matter Cover

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Why Rural Schools Matter

Mara Casey Tieken

From headlines to documentaries, urban schools are at the center of current debates about education. From these accounts, one would never know that 51 million Americans live in rural communities and depend on their public schools to meet not only educational but also social and economic needs. For many communities, these schools are the ties that bind. This book shares the untold story of rural education. Drawing upon extensive research in two southern towns, Tieken exposes the complicated ways in which schools shape the racial dynamics of their towns and sustain the communities that surround them. Vividly demonstrating the effects of constricted definitions of public education in an era of economic turmoil and widening inequality, Tieken calls for a more contextual approach to education policymaking, involving both state and community.

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