Rural Sociology DH Constance, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, USA r 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Glossary Adoption–diffusion of technology Process by which individual farmers (or other prospective users of technology) make decisions about the use or nonuse of a new technology. Land grant universities Integrated system of teaching, research, and outreach created to modernize agriculture. New Rural Sociology Conceptual approach to the sociology of agriculture that embraced critical perspectives of rural development.
Introduction Rural sociology is historically deﬁned as the sociological study of social organization and processes that are characteristic of rural societies and geographical areas where population densities are relatively low. In practice, modern rural sociology is considerably more comprehensive than the study of rural societies. As rural societies do not exist in isolation, rural sociology increasingly addresses the relationships between rural society and society as a whole and within the global economy and society. Vertical linkages to the macrosystem integrate rural areas into national and global social processes (Bonanno et al., 1994; Warren, 1963). Although rural sociology as a discipline originated in the United States in the early twentieth century, as part of decolonialization and modernization projects after World War II, it has diffused around the world where it is more often referred to as peasant studies, development studies, or village studies instead of rural sociology (Newby, 1980). Additionally, many of the foci of rural sociology are related closely to other social science disciplines including cultural geography, social anthropology, and agricultural economics.
The Roots of American Rural Sociology Although the ﬁeld of rural sociology has made major strides in understanding rural social processes, like the parent discipline of sociology, it still has strong roots in the nineteenth-century social thought. A central concern of nineteenth-century theorists was whether village and farm life was morally and socially superior to metropolitan life, and whether rural life would be resilient in the face of urban industrialism. Informed by the Enlightenment and Western rationalism, the classical sociologists Emile Durkheim (1858–1917) and Karl Marx (1818–83) both argued that urban–industrial capitalism and modern technologies and organizational practices were unavoidable and progressive social forces would eventually supplant the residual remnants of backward, preindustrial rural social forms. In contrast, Ferdinand Töennies
Rural–urban continuum Notion that the nature of social structure, social relationships, and values vary systematically across rural and urban communities. Sociology of agricultural science Study of the process through which scientists and scientiﬁc institutions discover new knowledge. Sociology of agrifood studies Study of the sociology of agriculture and food that links agricultural production and food consumption to globalization and commodity systems.
(1855–1936) viewed urbanization and industrial capitalism that characterized gesellschaft societies as leading to the decline of the pastoral virtues and intimate communal bonds of rural gemeinschaft societies that are necessary for healthy social life. For Töennies and many early rural sociologists, the cities and social relations of industrial capitalism represented the degradation of civilization. Although Max Weber (1864– 1920) recognized the dynamism of the social forces of bureaucratization, industrialization, and urbanization that were marginalizing traditional rural societies, he thought that bureaucratization and the industrial revolution, which he referred to as an iron cage, would lead to social movements, political ideologies, and other forms of resistance to these forces of rationalization and uniformity. Throughout its history, rural sociology has engaged in these nineteenth-century debates over the desirability and resilience of traditional rural social organization. Two general positions have alternated over time and still exist: (1) the view that rural society, owing to its more intimate social bonds, lower incidence of social pathologies, and stronger religious institutions, is socially and morally superior to urban society and therefore deserves to be preserved and (2) the view that traditional rural beliefs, social structures, technologies, practices, and institutions are nostalgic anachronisms of the past and must be modernized for the quality of rural life to be enhanced. Both positions are embedded deeply in Western social thought and continue to inform the discipline and discourses of rural sociology. The historical roots of rural sociology in America reside in the economic, political, and economic transformation brought about by the industrial revolution that occurred after the Civil War. Though the surge of industrial capitalism brought afﬂuence to many regions in the United States, it also created poverty and inequality in many rural areas. A benchmark publication in the debate between these two views of rural society was Sorokin and Zimmerman’s (1929) Principles of Rural–Urban Sociology, which synthesized rural sociological thought of the time and was the summative treatise in the ﬁeld. Sorokin and Zimmerman’s ‘rural–urban continuum’ perspective drew primarily on Töennies’ analysis of how
Encyclopedia of Agriculture and Food Systems, Volume 5
urbanization and industrial capitalism led to the undermining of the primary social bonds of community. Accordingly, the rural sociology research carried out before World War II was largely devoted to rural community studies and tended to present rural life as socially richer and morally superior to urban life.
Agrarian Politics and the Country Life Commission America’s agrarian politics also signiﬁcantly shaped the trajectory of rural sociology. Though the term ‘rural sociology’ was not widely used until the 1920s, the ﬁrst American rural sociological studies were conducted in the 1890s during a decade of populism and agrarian unrest. These pioneering rural sociological studies were initiated by DuBois (1898), a black sociologist on the staff of the US Department of Labor. DuBois’ studies emphasized how the postbellum crop-lien system in southern plantation agriculture reinforced black poverty by tying black farmers to the plantation system and subordinating them to the power of the planter class. During this time, studies of agricultural communities in the northeast were also undertaken by F.H. Giddings and associates at Columbia University. In these early days, land grant universities had little or no presence in the scholarship now called rural sociology. Although the populist critique of industrial capitalism swept through much of rural America during these years, populism did not directly inﬂuence early rural sociology. During the ﬁrst full decade of American sociology, there was widespread suspicion among university administrators and their patrons that sociology should be scrutinized to ensure that it concerned itself with empirical research rather than populist politics. This political environment led most sociologists to distance themselves from radical social theories and movements. There is no indication that any American rural sociologists were active supporters of populism. Populism’s indirect inﬂuences on rural sociology, however, were important. The populists’ mostly unsuccessful attempts to recruit black farmers into their movement contributed to the questioning of the sharecropping system, the structure of agriculture, and southern rural social structure. Populist radicalism was a major source of concern to urban industrialists who beneﬁted from a socioeconomic system that provided a stable supply of cheap food for their workers. Although William Jennings Bryant’s loss in the 1898 presidential election signaled the defeat of populism in electoral politics, fear of a resurgence of populist radicalism remained for more than a decade. The aim of providing a moderate alternative to populism was integral to the establishment of the Country Life Movement (Danbom, 1979). Founded by industrial and other elites, the Country Life Movement maintained that, contrary to populist assertions, rural social problems were not owing to the negative impacts of industrial capitalism, but rather because of a lack of organization, poor infrastructure, and technological backwardness in rural areas. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt recognized this reform movement by appointing a Presidential Commission on County Life, chaired by Liberty Hyde Bailey, dean of Agriculture at Cornell University. The next six decades
of American rural sociology were framed by the Country Life Commission Report published in 1909. The report did acknowledge many of the social problems of rural America (e.g., the inequities of the crop-lien system and widespread sharecropping), but its dominant message was that an expanded effort to modernize rural America technologically and socially was integral to improving rural society. The Country Life Commission recommended the establishment of what is now called the Cooperative Extension Service to speed the modernization of rural America. The Cooperative Extension Service (Smith–Lever Act of 1914) completed the land grant college modernization triangle of teaching (Morrell Act of 1862) and research (Hatch Act of 1887). The Country Life Commission recommended the harnessing of the social sciences, particularly agricultural economics and rural sociology, to support the technological modernization of rural America. Rural sociological studies in land grant colleges of agriculture were critical in helping to remove social barriers to technological modernization and stabilize rural communities. The establishment of rural sociology, however, was slow and uneven, particularly compared with the ﬁeld of agricultural economics. Only a few land grant colleges – generally the larger ones in the Northeast and Midwest – established major rural sociology programs. Moreover, it was not until the Purnell Act of 1925 that federal funds were available to support rural sociological research. For all practical purposes, the land grant colleges where rural sociology was present in the 1930s are the same 25 or so institutions where rural sociology existed in the early 1990s.
Institutionalizing Rural Sociology Three other historical factors were crucial in shaping and institutionalizing rural sociology. First, the Great Depression and the New Deal opened up vast opportunities for rural sociological scholarship aimed at rural reform and relief. By the mid-1930s, sociologists in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Bureau of Agricultural Economics (BAE) and other federal agencies had carried out an impressive program of empirical research on rural communities, rural population, and the structure of agriculture and had linked this research with an agenda for far-reaching rural reforms (e.g., reduction of the power of southern landlords, land tenure reform, and encouragement of cooperative forms of production). Second, the course of rural sociology was decisively shaped when in 1936–1937 rural sociologists broke from the American Sociological Society (later the American Sociological Association) to establish the Rural Sociological Society and started their own journal Rural Sociology. The organizational break from the larger discipline of sociology led rural sociology to become even more identiﬁed with and institutionalized within the land grant and USDA complex. Third, from the late-1930s through the mid-1940s the progressive reformism of the New Deal came under attack by conservative members of the Congress. The crackdown on reformist rural sociology (and agricultural economics) was completed when the BAE was disbanded in 1944. Seminal works on the relationship between the structure of agriculture and quality of life in rural areas carried out by Goldschmidt
(1947) working for the BAE were suppressed. For two decades after the dismantlement of the BAE, the new generations of rural sociologists were dissuaded from embracing the scholarly and political reform orientations of the New Deal rural sociologists. They were encouraged to embrace positivist social science and provide the basic descriptive information about rural people and rural society to help inform policies targeted to rural modernization. As a result of these changes, the Töennies–Sorokin– Zimmerman perspective of the rural–urban continuum that favored rural over urban social forms declined in prominence as rural sociology was confronted with the Great Depression and rural squalor, and quickly embraced New Deal reformism. During the New Deal period, rural sociology adopted the modernist view that rural society needed the types of legal, social, and structural reforms that were underway in nonrural arenas, such as labor relations, state regulation of economy and society, old age assistance, and so on. This perspective questioned the romantic and nostalgic position that the traditional structures and practices of rural society were necessarily socially desirable. The rural–urban continuum perspective was also undermined empirically by studies showing that community-like primary social bonds persist even within large metropolitan places. Rural sociology is a disciplinary product of these historical events interpreted from the two contradictory views of rural society grounded in social theory. The institutional separation from the parent discipline of sociology, the institutional housing of rural sociology programs in colleges of agriculture, and the structural linkages to the Extension Service shifted rural sociology from its original focus on preserving rural life in the face of industrial capitalism to facilitating technologically driven modernization. To survive in the institutional environment of the times, rural sociology embraced its function within the land grant college system by facilitating the modernization of rural society. As politicians and college of agriculture administrators pushed rural sociology to be useful in solving the practical problems of rural society, it lost its preservationist agenda informed by critical social theories. Research that contradicted the prevailing modernist agenda might threaten its institutional standing. By the 1940s, the function and practice of rural sociology was clear, to explicitly support the social policy of transforming rural society through enhanced adoption of modern technologies (Newby, 1980).
Modernist and Preservationist Perspectives The modernist perspective dominated until the 1960s when rural sociologists and rural advocates began to document and criticize the negative impacts of unquestioned technological adoption as the only path that improved the rural quality of life. The rural–urban continuum perspective reappeared as advocates of rural society renewed their search for ways to preserve what they perceived to be the superior qualities of rural life in the face of the continued spread of industrial capitalism. Their concerns included community disintegration, rural out-migration, loss of local autonomy, family-farm decline, degradation of the rural landscape, and depletion of natural resources. Rural protagonists were informed by the
Jeffersonian agrarian values of community, individualism, family-based businesses, and grass-roots democracy (Gilbert, 1982). As noted at the outset of this article, American rural sociology has oscillated between these polar views and agendas of (1) providing uncritical positivist science in support of modernizing backward remnants of preindustrial societies and (2) preserving the special aspects of rural society that support community well-being and enhanced quality of life. Many politicians, land grant university administrators, and advocates of technological innovations still view the preservationist agenda as a major barrier to progress for rural societies. Though rural sociological research, teaching, and outreach are now undertaken in many nations with rural sociology professional societies on all continents, rural sociology is essentially an American phenomenon. The disciplinary category ‘rural sociology’ was created in association with the American land grant university system and even today most professional rural sociologists in the United States are still university faculty appointed in land grant colleges of agriculture. The land grant university system was created by the federal government to modernize agriculture and rural life. Though many other countries have a tradition of scholarship similar to rural sociology, the global spread of rural sociology was due mainly to the missionary zeal of rural sociologists from the 1940s through the 1960s, who embraced the modernization perspective. Mostly funded through the rapid expansion of American foreign aid in the post-World War II period, many famous American rural sociologists traveled extensively and diffused American-style rural sociology across a wide range of countries, often helping to create land grant-style systems. As late as the 1960s, rural sociology in other countries was very similar to the American variety. Beginning in the 1970s, rural sociology became increasingly diverse. Today US rural sociology is not nearly so homogeneous or globally inﬂuential as it once was but increasingly borrows from the ideas of European and developing world scholars. Although the modernization perspective is still prominent, the reengagement with critical perspectives has expanded as positivist interpretations were found lacking in explaining social change. Continental and regional professional rural sociology societies, such as the Latin American Rural Sociological Association, European Society for Rural Sociology, Australia and Oceana Network, and Asia Rural Sociological Association as well as the International Rural Sociological Association have expanded. Rural sociologists are active in many of the research committees of the International Sociological Association. The dominance of the land grant university model in the United States has also waned. Owing to a combination of budget cuts, mission redeﬁnition, and academic reorganizations, during the last two decades several rural sociology programs at land grant universities have closed or merged into broader social science programs. As a result, rural sociologists are increasingly employed in non-land grant university settings in the public and private sectors.
The Major Foci of Rural Sociology Modern rural sociology has six major branches of study: rural population, rural community, rural social stratiﬁcation,
natural resources and environment, agriculture and food, and science and technology. Following the dichotomous pattern presented in the Section Modernist and Preservationist Perspectives, some branches of study emerged and developed during the historical periods dominated by modernist perspectives and other branches during times informed by critical perspectives. In this article, principal attention is given to science and technology and agriculture and food. Before doing so, a brief description of each of the major specialties in American rural sociology is provided. This section concludes with a discussion on international rural sociology.
Population and Community From the inception of rural sociology, sociological analysis of rural population and rural community dynamics through census and social survey data has been central to the ﬁeld. DuBois’ early work on black farming was largely based on population census data. As will be dealt in more depth later, the overarching frame of all early rural sociological research is the sociology of agriculture. Patterns of farming systems were studied to try to better understand the relationship between types of farming operations and quality of life in rural areas. Recall that DuBois’ early work was on the implications of the Black tenant sharecroppers and planter landlords system of agriculture in the south. The methodology of these early studies was usually the community survey, which cemented the overlap between population and community studies. The Country Life Commission report noted the lack of and need for complete and accurate information regarding the conditions of rural life. The work of the Division of Farm Population and Rural Life of the BAE provided basic descriptive data about the rural population and established rural population studies as one of the pillars of the ﬁeld. These early descriptive studies generated typologies of farming systems that were used to inform modernization programs carried out by the Cooperative Extension Service, which had an ofﬁce in nearly every rural county in the United States. Major rural sociology programs included a specialist in rural population and rural community studies who analyzed census data for counties and rural places. Population studies still provide the important basic descriptive information used to inform the policies and programs designed to modernize rural society (Garkovich, 1989). Rural population and community studies have become increasingly differentiated so that they are now seen as distinct specialties. Rural population research has followed demography in becoming more quantitative and descriptive. Studies that have moved past description into more sociological investigations tended to be guided by the human ecology perspective (Hawley, 1950). Although Hawley’s systems model does incorporate the interplay between population, organization, environment, and technology variables and therefore allows for a more sophisticated evaluation than the empirical description of demography, its ability to integrate the spatial with the social aspects of rural society is limited. As population studies and demography generated a wealth of data on both rural and urban populations, it became possible to conduct statistical comparisons between the two
groups and thereby test some of the preservationist propositions that population size and density inﬂuence social actions and organization; the greater the size and density the lower the social cohesion and quality of life. As noted in the Section The Roots of American Rural Sociology, this frame was ﬁrst conceptualized as the Töennies–Sorokin–Zimmerman rural–urban continuum and later as the ‘folk-urban continuum’ (Redﬁeld, 1947). The evidence of a linear relationship that shows decreased quality of life associated with increased population size and density has been mixed. Gemeinschaft relationships were discovered surviving within gesellschaft communities. As a result, the use of census data to document rural–urban differences has been discarded by most rural sociologists. The rural sociological analysis of communities can be traced back to Galpin’s (1915, 1918) pioneering holistic community studies. Galpin is known as the founder of rural sociology. At the University of Wisconsin, Galpin initiated rural life studies based on community studies. His study titled ‘The Social Anatomy of an Agricultural Community’ was the ﬁrst Experimental Station bulletin in rural sociology. Galpin was also very active in the American Country Life Association, and later headed the Division of Farm Population and Rural Life in the BAE/USDA. Rural sociologists have conducted thousands of community studies in support of community developed policies and programs (Summers, 1986; Wilkinson, 1991). By the 1960s, the criticisms of the rural–urban continuum approach for being weak methodologically and excessively descriptive had solidiﬁed (Bell and Newby, 1972). Community studies suffered from the advance of the mass-society thesis, which argued that local communities have been eclipsed by the macrosystem forces of industrialization, urbanization, and bureaucratization (Stein, 1964). Through increased vertical linkages, extralocal forces overwhelmed the horizontal linkages of local communities and rendered small rural communities powerless (Warren, 1963). Later research found that increased vertical linkages do not necessarily destroy horizontal linkages, which tempered the macrosystem dominance thesis (Summers, 1986). Much of the community studies work done today employs either the social capital perspective (Flora and Flora, 2008) or the interactional ﬁeld perspective (Wilkinson, 1991).
Social Stratiﬁcation Throughout human history, there has been a tendency for poverty, disadvantage, and political subordination to be exhibited disproportionately among rural people. Preindustrial rural social structures (e.g., feudalism, the antebellum and postbellum Southern plantation systems in the United States, landlord-dominated rural economies in much of South and Southeast Asia, and the latifundia–minifundia complex of Latin America) tended to generate social inequality. In modern societies, rural people have tended to be poorer than urban people. The equation of rural with poverty and inequality has made analyses of rural social stratiﬁcation and inequality an important dimension of rural sociology. The substantive area of rural social stratiﬁcation has a long and controversial history
in rural sociology. DuBois’ work on tenancy in the south revealed patterns of race-based institutional discrimination. Populist concerns over the power of the agribusiness trusts triggered a broad-based social movement critical of the impact of industrial capitalism on rural society. Cognizant of these expressed concerns regarding inequality, administrators of turn-of-the-century universities steered sociological attention away from controversial class and other inequalities and toward perspectives, such as population analysis and the rural–urban continuum. Thirty years later the New Deal climate of state-led reformism created space for rural sociological attention to social class, race, and poverty, though this space shrank as the New Deal was rolled back, the BAE was dismantled, and Cold War intensiﬁed. Rural social stratiﬁcation and related analyses enjoyed a renaissance during the Great Society Era and War on Poverty in the 1960s. The study of rural social stratiﬁcation continues to be a lively and increasingly more diversiﬁed arena of inquiry. Studies of regional and labor market inequalities, rural gender inequality, and rural racial inequality have enriched the analysis of rural social inequality (Lobao et al., 2007). These analyses have been extended to the global level and to metropolitan-corporate forces, such as international competition among private multinational agricultural input ﬁrms as part of the globalization of economy and society (Bonanno et al., 1994; McMichael, 1994). In the 1980s, rural labor market studies emerged to analyze the changing economic base and employment opportunities in rural America. Modernization and mechanization of agriculture and other extractive natural resource-based industries supported the steady decline of employment in the primary sector of the economy. From the modernization perspective, rural to urban migration was a natural outcome of the efﬁciencies gained when capital replaced labor. In the 1970s, rural areas experienced a manufacturing boom as industries migrated south from the rust belt in search of cheaper land, lower taxes, and nonunion workers. Although this trend continues as major manufacturing companies shop for rural locations to site their operations, service industries have emerged as the major source of employment growth. These shifts have contributed to uneven employment opportunities, high unemployment in many rural regions, the growth of temporary, part-time, and informal work, and often increases in poverty. Much of the research investigates the nature and extent of rural unemployment and underemployment, with a growing focus on the linkages of rural labor markets to the macroprocesses of national economic restructuring as part of the globalization of economy and society (Green, 2007; Tigges and Tootle, 1990). Gender studies in rural sociology received little attention until the late twentieth century (Haney and Knowles, 1988). Since then numerous studies have been carried out that investigate how the institutions of capitalism and patriarchy inﬂuence the work roles of men and women in the home, on the farm, and in other rural labor markets. A major dimension of these studies is the nature of farm women’s household, farm, and off-farm work (Sachs, 1996). Recent research has revealed the hidden and mostly unreported contributions of women to rural sociology (Zimmerman and Larson, 2010). Gender studies have also started to focus on the topic of farm men and issues of masculinity (Campbell et al., 2006).
Natural Resources and Environment There is an established tradition of rural sociological scholarship on the relations between people, communities, and natural resources. This scholarship is divided theoretically and methodologically into the sociology of natural resources (SNR) and environmental sociology (ES) camps (Buttel, 2002). These camps mostly followed the two perspectives noted in the Section Modernist and Preservationist Perspectives. The SNR camp is grounded in early twentieth-century discussions regarding conservationist (forester Gifford Pinchot) versus preservationist (ecologist John Muir) views of natural resources. It focuses on conservationist approaches regarding efﬁcient management of nonrenewable and renewable resources with a strong applied and empirical orientation (Field and Burch, 1988). By the 1960s, the SNR was an established research area made up of a combination of (1) social scientists employed in government natural resource management agencies, such as the US Park Service, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Corps of Engineers; (2) scholars working in the areas of leisure and recreation studies; and (3) rural sociologists working on resource-dependent community issues, such as the boomtown phenomenon of mining and forestry communities. In the 1970s, the ﬁeld expanded to include the area of social impact assessment. Most SNR researchers are employed in private or public resource management agencies or natural resourcerelated academic departments, such as forestry, wildlife and range management, ﬁsheries, or international development. SNR researchers are often members of the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management and publish in the ﬂagship journal, Society and Natural Resources. The substantive area of ES emerged in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the environmental movement (Buttel, 2002). Most early environmental sociologists were academics at liberal arts institutions with a substantive interest in environmentalism. Although some of the environmental sociologists had backgrounds in natural resource sociology and then expanded their research arena as environmental externalities and concerns manifested in the 1960s, most were younger academics with a strong commitment to environmentalism. The original research questions focused on the characteristics of environmentalism and the structure of the environmental movement, then expanded to the areas of pollution and resource scarcity owing to industrial production and consumption (Bell, 1998; Buttel, 1978; Catton and Dunlap, 1978; Schnaiberg and Gould, 1994). ES approaches tend to be more critical and address the ‘Environmental Question’ regarding the relationship between modern agriculture and environmental quality. More radical neo-Marxist interpretations (O’Connor, 1998) argue that capitalism is inherently contradictory with ecological sustainability, whereas less radical perspectives such as reﬂexive modernization (Beck, 1992) support reformist agendas such as green technologies. In the past two decades, the ﬁeld of political ecology, mostly advanced by critical geographers and development social scientists, emerged as a complement to ES (Peet and Watts, 1996). Rural sociology was at the leading edge of the larger subdiscipline of ES and continues to provide strong leadership in applied areas of ES (Freudenburg, 1986; Dunlap et al., 2002).
Rural Sociology International Rural Sociology As noted earlier, many of the prominent American rural sociologists of the post-World War II period encouraged the global diffusion of rural sociology, particularly in the developing world. The impulse for diffusing international rural sociology (or the sociology of development) was partly the desire to promote a comparative approach to understanding rural social organization, but more importantly the post-War period was an emerging era of ‘developmentalism,’ based on a faith in the efﬁcacy of scientiﬁcally planned social change and technological development in the decolonizing world. Rural sociologists thought they had a great deal to offer for improving the quality of life in the developing world. Rural sociologists trained in the adoption and diffusion of agricultural technology (see Section Rural Sociology and the Diffusion Era) were well represented among these early international rural sociologists. The Cold War dynamic accelerated the push to diffuse the technological answer to hunger and development and combat the spread of communism. Food aid such as PL480 was a major dimension of these development assistance programs. Modernizationist interpretations of PL480 viewed it as improving the Third World’s diets, whereas critical interpretations viewed it as neocolonialism and cultural imperialism of Western diets (McMichael, 1996). This modernizationist/developmentalist tradition of rural sociology held ﬁrm for nearly three decades, but ultimately was displaced intellectually by critiques for its lack of efﬁcacy and of having ignored how development is constrained and blocked by the global and national dynamics of the international political economy, as well as the ethnocentrist imposition of one culture upon another. This early tradition of international rural sociology would be undermined, in particular, through critical assessments by rural sociologists regarding their participation and the role of rural sociology in the Green Revolution (Flora, 1990; Havens and Flinn, 1975). The sociology of international rural development has contributed substantially to the development of rural sociology as a whole. International rural sociological studies have helped to temper the tendency for this discipline embedded in the land grant system to become parochial. International rural sociology scholarship has also contributed to important theoretical trends in the ﬁeld. For example, the late 1970s is regarded as a period of ascendance of the ‘New Rural Sociology,’ whose principal theoretical underpinnings were grounded in the critique of international development programs and the role of developmentalist/modernizationist rural sociology in contributing to these programs (Buttle and Newby, 1980). This critical literature became known as the dependency theory (dependista) critique (Gunder Frank, 1969; Wallerstein, 1974) of the great modernization project (Parsons, 1966; Rostow, 1960). In the 1990s, the Wageningen School (Long and Long, 1992; Van der Ploeg, 1992) introduced actor–network theory (ANT) and a social anthropology approach to rural lifestyle studies. ANT provided an interpretive alternative to political economy perspectives, which dominated the New Rural Sociology in the United States. In the early 1990s, three major social forces combined to alter the future of international rural sociology. First, land grant universities faced with growing ﬁscal pressures cut their
international development program budgets. Second, a crisis of conﬁdence in the ability of development intervention programs, such as the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the US Agency for International Development to make positive differences in the developing world ensued as the global recession of the 1980s, international mobility of ﬁnance and industry linked to the globalization of economy and society, and imposition of structural adjustment programs on debtor countries threatened the possibility of balanced growth in the developing world. The 1990s was the ‘postdevelopmentalist’ era in which the faith that meaningful planned development based on positivist approaches could occur waned as the harsh realities of globalization and ﬁscal austerity associated with the late twentieth century political economy became apparent. Third, the ﬁscal crisis of the state combined with the demise of the USSR as a global threat created a signiﬁcant decline in the US development assistance programs, which had traditionally been the major source of funding for international development sociology (McMichael, 1996).
Rural Sociology and the Diffusion Era Embracing the adoption and diffusion of technology perspective was a pivotal turn in the development of rural sociology (Fliegel, 1993). It dominated the rural sociological scholarship during the 1950s and 1960s. Before this shift the rural population, community studies, and rural–urban continuum traditions prevailed. Attention to technological change had been conﬁned to a few studies, such as Williams’ (1939) work on the impact of the mechanization of cotton production on ﬁeld labor in the plantation systems of the south. Even during the height of diffusion research in rural sociology, the labor dislocations caused by mechanization of southern agriculture led many rural sociologists in the region to question the implications of new technologies. The adoption–diffusion perspective is a social–psychological approach that explains why farmers adopt new technologies (Rogers, 1962). Farmers are social actors with different cognitive states due to variation in education and other factors and various value orientations, such as different levels of modernity, innovativeness, and risk-taking. Farmers respond to stimuli, such as the characteristics of new agricultural technologies, mass media messages, and inﬂuences from reference groups. Unlike the earlier traditions in which community was stressed, the adoption–diffusion perspective deemphasized the spatial aspect of rural society and focused on particular psychological traits of individuals (Fliegel, 1993). The rise of the adoption–diffusion perspective was an outcome of many trends of the time. The rural–urban continuum perspective was exhausted and its role in data reconnaissance to support New Deal reforms had waned. In the 1940s, there was much excitement about hybrid corn and the pioneering adoption studies focused on this technology. It identiﬁed which farmers had the highest rates of adoption of hybrid corn and how the innovation was diffused to other farmers. The social climate of the time was conducive to shifting rural sociology to a focus on technologically driven
modernization of rural society as the best path to improved quality of life. Adoption–diffusion studies were also a strategic way to make rural sociological research useful to experiment station directors in the post-BAE climate. And in sociology at large, the 1940s was a period of increased emphasis on social psychology and survey research, which were integral to adoption–diffusion research. Adoption–diffusion advocates believed they had the answer to humanity’s ills and the scientiﬁc method to diffuse the answer. In agriculture, the promise was to end hunger and generate development. The adoption tradition produced a number of generalizations about the process of agricultural technology diffusion. For example, it was repeatedly found that plots of cumulative adoption over time took the form of a logistical growth (or ‘S’) curve where adoption by the innovators proceeded slowly, then accelerated through the early and late adopters, then decelerated again as some of the laggards ﬁnally adopted. Earlier adopters of new technology tended to be younger, have higher levels of education, and to have more ‘modern’ value orientations than do later or nonadopters. Research also revealed that correlations between farm size and farm household wealth and adoption of new commercial innovations tended to increase over time. Soon adoption–diffusion research spread to other innovations and countries as part of the modernization era (Fliegel, 1993). Critics stressed that a shortcoming of adoption–diffusion was that it viewed new technologies as unambiguous improvements. Farmers who did not adopt were referred to as ‘laggards.’ Adoption researchers seldom considered how technologies might affect the structure of agriculture or the environment. Despite the utility of the adoption–diffusion perspective, its inﬂuence began to decline in the late 1960s and early 1970s in tandem with a growing skepticism toward modern agricultural technologies among sociologists and society at large. Although adoption–diffusion research no longer has the prominent position it once enjoyed, modiﬁed diffusion theories and methodologies still enhance the understanding of the processes of technological change.
The New Rural Sociology By the 1960s, the critique of positivist frameworks that supported the unquestioned adoption of technology as the panacea for rural society was well established. Critical rural sociologists were concerned that social theory and research had been decoupled and that the uncritical empiricism of adoption–diffusion approaches generated unacceptable externalities for rural environments and rural people. Several rural sociologists with experience in adoption–diffusion programs internationally challenged the Western orthodoxy of the technological panacea by arguing that modernization served the interests of the wealthy elites and business interests to the detriment of peasants and poor people (Havens, 1972). In North America and Europe similar discontents emerged as social movements claimed that environmental degradation and institutional discrimination persisted. The normative and positivist conceptual frameworks that dominated for the previous 20 years could not explain the social unrest of the time. Rural social scientists turned to critical perspectives to better
explain why the public policies and programs of the federally sponsored land grant university system which claimed to be improving the quality of life for rural people was working well for some groups but marginalizing other groups. This shift in theoretical focus generated what is called The New Rural Sociology (Buttle and Newby, 1980). It was noted at the outset of this article that rural sociology’s history has been one of alternating between opposing views regarding the distinctiveness of traditional rural social structures. Rural sociology came into its own during the post-World War II era. Post-War rural sociology tended to reject the rural romanticism of the 1920s and embraced the technologicalmodernizationist paradigm that traditional rural social structures were destined to disappear, that there was nothing intrinsic to rural America that was sufﬁciently socially or morally superior to make it worthy of preservation, and that technological modernization was the most desirable future for rural America. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the pendulum began to swing back toward the rural preservationist perspective. Emerging controversies over agricultural technologies and their social and environmental impacts tarnished the luster from the technological-modernizationist view. The 1970s were a period of ‘rural renaissance’ because of metro-to-nonmetro migration and a stabilization of the declines in farm numbers that characterized the post-War period. The New Rural Sociology that emerged during the 1970s and 1980s was decisively shaped by several phenomena in the larger society. Five interrelated social movements are noteworthy: Hightower’s (1973) critique of the land grant university system linked to mechanization technologies; the 1970s critique of the Green Revolution; public resistance to the rise of biotechnology in the 1980s; the sustainable agriculture movement in the 1980s; and the rise of global environmentalism in the 1980s. Social scientists placed emphasis on explaining the origins of these movements and how they shaped research policies and the content of new technologies. Most importantly, disagreements over new technologies in society at large prompted social scientists to ponder whether there are intellectually rigorous and socially constructive ways to take a neutral and detached position toward the practice of science and the development of new technologies. These new realities of rural America combined with the growing popularity in sociology of critical theories led to the New Rural Sociology. Adoption–diffusion approaches grounded in positivistic assumptions of social change did not explain well the societal conﬂict in the times. These new theories ranged from various forms of neo-Marxism and neoWeberianism to critical theories drawn from hermeneutics and related traditions. The coherence among these theories was their common critique of modernizationist rural sociology. The dominant theoretical underpinning of the New Rural Sociology drew heavily on neo-Marxist interpretations of the social differentiation in agriculture, including the central role of the state and powerful interest groups in maintaining the political-economic system. The farm/debt crisis of the 1980s provided the empirical setting to apply the New Rural Sociology framework. ‘Save the Family Farm’ was a familiar rallying cry for populist movements, such as Prairie Fire, the American Agriculture Movement, the Center for Rural Affairs (CRA, 2013), and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU, 2013).
Rural Sociology The critical New Rural Sociology ﬁrst focused on the paradox of the persistence of a majority of small family-based producers that produced a small percentage of farm output combined with the growth of large, capitalist operations that accounted for large shares of production. The ‘Agrarian Question’ was rediscovered as rural sociologists asked, ‘What is the relationship between the structure of agriculture and the quality of life in rural communities?’ Goldschmidt’s (1947) work from California on the negative relationship between community quality of life and industrial agriculture was rediscovered. The early discussions centered on how capitalist relations of production penetrated agriculture, including the barriers to agricultural industrialization. The sociology of agriculture emerged as a distinct substantive area within rural sociology (Buttel et al., 1990). At the international level, the New Rural Sociology represented a major shift away from positivist adoption–diffusion approaches to critical world systems and dependency conceptual frames. Much of the critique of adoption–diffusion came from those international rural social scientists who did research in the developing world and who realized its faults as a tool for understanding agricultural change in rural areas (Havens and Flinn, 1975; George, 1976; Lipton, 1977). Discussion centered on terms, such as Gunde Frank’s (1969) ‘the development of underdevelopment’ and Wallerstein’s (1974) ‘world system’ of core, semiperiphery, and periphery counties structured in unequal exchange relationships as a remnant of colonialism. In the 1990s, the New Rural Sociology combined the domestic and international foci to incorporate commodity systems (Friedland, 1984) and commodity chain analysis (Hopkins and Wallerstein, 1986), which documented the political-economic dimensions of globalization of agriculture and food systems (Bonanno et al., 1994; McMichael, 1994; Goodman and Watts, 1997). Though the New Rural Sociology was most prominent in the sociology of agriculture literature (see Section Sociology of Agriculture and Food Studies), it had a major inﬂuence on the rural sociological study of agricultural science and technology as well.
The Sociology of Agricultural Science In the post-Hightower period rural sociologists were unable to develop a distinctly sociological theory of technological change, so they build upon the ‘treadmill of technology’ concept from agricultural economist Cochrane (1979). Proceeding from an adoption–diffusion perspective, Cochrane’s theory noted that earlier adopters received innovator’s rents because of increased production combined with lower per unit production costs. However, because new technologies increase production and agricultural commodities have low price and income elasticities of demand, overproduction and declining commodity prices ensue. Depressed prices negate innovator’s rent and force nonadopters to adopt, get on the treadmill, or go out of business. Nonadopter’s lands were then consolidated into the early adopter’s operations (cannibalism), increasing farm size. Cochrane commented that the treadmill was subsidized by government commodity programs, which placed a ﬂoor under commodity prices. These subsidies caused the
beneﬁts of new technologies to become capitalized in the farm asset values of the surviving large landowners. Rural sociologists appropriated Cochrane’s account of technological change but soon found it to be lacking for a number of reasons. The treadmill theory is more valid when analyzing family farming systems compared with large-scale industrial agriculture. It also exaggerates the structural nature of technological change in family-farm agricultures. As most family farmers have signiﬁcant off-farm work, they have more autonomy concerning adoption decisions. The technology treadmill perspective’s focus on mechanization technology applied better to the 1950s than the 1980s agriculture. Furthermore, treadmill of technology reasoning does not address the origins of new technologies, a limitation that was addressed by the development of a rural sociology of agricultural science. As noted in the Section Agrarian Politics and the Country Life Commission, there were signiﬁcant studies of technological change and labor displacement in southern plantation agriculture. The sociological study of the diffusion of agricultural innovations began during World War II. Until the late 1960s, the adoption–diffusion perspective was the most important area of rural sociological research. However, the diffusion tradition tended to ignore the social origins of science and technology and the social consequences of technology. The functionalist assumptions of adoption–diffusion approaches minimized the political–economic dimension of rural sociological research. Serious study of the processes by which agricultural science is practiced and new agricultural technologies are developed did not emerge until Lawrence Busch and William Lacy began to draw from the sociology of science to develop the ﬁeld of the sociology of agricultural science. During the 1980s, a prominent group of rural sociologists, including Busch and Lacy (1983), Friedland (Friedland et al., 1981), Geisler (Berardi and Geisler, 1984), and others created the sociological study of the social consequences of agricultural technology. An important breakthrough in rural sociological thought occurred when Busch and Lacy grappled with how rural sociology could meaningfully engage public debates over agricultural research and technology. They recognized that critiques of technology needed to demonstrate that there are meaningful technological alternatives and that a change in the structure of research institutions or research policy can affect the content and impacts of new technology. To understand whether there are alternatives to existing or emerging technologies, science and research needs to be studied rather than just the social impacts of technology. Busch and Lacy pioneered the ﬁeld of the sociology of agricultural science with their theoretical critique of the implicit sociology of science and knowledge within the adoption–diffusion tradition and the application of the sociological theory of inﬂuence on the research of agricultural scientists. Their seminal book, Science, Agriculture, and the Politics of Research (Busch and Lacy, 1983), demonstrated the important impacts that scientists’ social backgrounds (e.g., farm vs. nonfarm) and institutional nexus (State Agricultural Experiment Stations vs. Agricultural Research Service) have on the research goals of scientists. It documented the fact that science is a social product, and that social factors help to determine which of the several alternative
priorities and approaches are stressed in scientiﬁc institutions. Their work provided a way for rural sociology to ﬁnd some middle ground between unrealistic Hightower-style criticism of new technology on one hand, and uncompromising defense of land grant technology on the other. They contributed to a better understanding of how land grant and other public agricultural research institutions function and helped to galvanize rural sociological interest in contributing to public research policy. It is notable that their work coincided with the growing interest in the conﬂict over agricultural biotechnology. They provided a general theoretical and empirical template for the numerous studies that would be done to explain the course of the development of agricultural biotechnology. Their own book on biotechnology provides an innovative theoretical position, which combines the insights of ANT from the sociology of science and induced innovation theory from economics (Busch et al., 1991). Busch’s work became increasingly informed by science and technology studies (Latour, 1987), which investigates the study of how science is made rather than the ﬁnished science. These interests led to his creation of the Michigan State University School of Agrifood Governance and Technoscience (Konefal and Hatanaka, 2010), where his students carried on this research agenda focusing on the scientiﬁc production of standards and resulting societal governance by standards. Following the ANT framework, standards are nonhuman actors that structure society in nondemocratic ways. Busch continues to be concerned with the negative impacts that scientism, statism, and marketism have for substantive forms of democracy (Busch, 2000, 2011). Rural sociological studies of biotechnology are wide ranging. Some of these were aimed at placing modern biotechnology in a historical context of the changing division of labor between the state and private capital in developing and promoting new technology. Other scholars have stressed the new political–economic environment of biotechnology (e.g., new intellectual property restrictions, such as patents), the importance of intellectual competition in biotechnology, and how modern biotechnology could be expected to alter the dynamics of agrarian change in developed and developing countries (Buttel, 2005; Goodman et al., 1987; Kloppenburg, 1988). The ﬁerce controversy over GMO (genetically modiﬁed organism) food is a good example of the continuing tension between positivist and critical theoretical positions of the implications of agricultural technology (see the movie Food Inc. (Kenner, 2009)). Rural sociologists have also pioneered in studies of several areas of agricultural science other than biotechnology, such as developing methodologies for ‘commodity systems analysis’ (Friedland, 1984). These studies have demonstrated that the forces that shape public and private agricultural research are, more often than not, relatively speciﬁc to the commodity sector involved. Another important area of research has concerned sustainable agriculture, which has included research aimed at facilitating agricultural sustainability as well as research on the origins and implications of the sustainable agriculture movement (Allen, 2005; Buttel, 1997). The sociology of agricultural science embraced a critical perspective to study the social signiﬁcance of the research apparatus of the land grant university system itself, particularly as to whether it
has essentially served as a state policy that helped to underwrite the growth of large-scale capitalist agriculture (Rudy et al., 2007).
Sociology of Agriculture and Food Studies The sociology of agriculture and food is the dominant substantive research area in rural sociology. As noted in the Section Modernist and Preservationist Perspectives, all of rural sociology can be contexted within the original concerns with the relationship between the structure of agriculture and the quality of life in rural communities. The New Rural Sociology represented a signiﬁcant critical departure from the adoption–diffusion models that embraced positivist models of development. The initial and central problematic of the New Rural Sociology was the ‘Agrarian Question’ (Buttle and Newby, 1980), which centered on the subsumption/survival debate regarding how capitalism penetrates agriculture and the degree of farmer/peasant integration into industrial agricultural forms. National and international data not only revealed a steady depeasantization of rural areas but also showed that family-farm/peasant operations persisted in the face of industrialization. Rural sociologists were interested in whether family-farm/peasant agriculture would be subsumed into industrial models or if and why it might survive. Three perspectives emerged to explain this phenomenon: the seasonal nature of agriculture and associated biological constraints created barriers to capitalist penetration (Mann, 1990); detours around these barriers, such as debt, contract integration, market concentration, substitutionism, and appropriationism provide other avenues of penetration (Mooney, 1988; Goodman et al., 1987); and pettycommodity producers survive through ﬂexibility and selfexploitation (Friedmann, 1978). The outcome of this debate revealed that structuralist-Marxist interpretations of the demise of family/peasant agriculture were ﬂawed due to particular conﬁgurations of family/peasant farming and that historical and spatial contingencies created alternative structures of agriculture (Marsden, 1989). In the 1990s, the sociology of agriculture and food experienced two signiﬁcant shifts: agroindustrial globalization and farming styles. The agroindustrial globalization approach argues that the primary drivers of agricultural change reside outside production agriculture and in the areas of national political–economic processes, the global economy, and geopolitics. In particular, the rising power of agribusiness transnational corporations (TNCs) and supranational forms of the state (e.g., IMF, WB, World Trade Organization) as major coordinators of the agrifood system became a crucial research arena. Friedmann and McMichael (1989) introduced the regimes approach from the French Regulationist School to interpret broad historical shifts in global agricultural arrangements. Regimes analysis looks at clusters of symbiotic factors that generate stable periods of capital accumulation interspersed with periods of crisis. The settler regime (Frontier) of the late 1800s dominated by the British Empire was replaced in the 1940s by the agricultural surplus regime (Fordist) dominated by the United States. Institutional crises of the 1970s prompted the end of the surplus regime and the nascent
emergence of the neoliberal regime (Post-Fordism) based on ﬂexible accumulation strategies employed by TNCs who exercised global sourcing strategies to obtain the best factors of production, often to the detriment of subordinate groups and substantive forms of democracy (Bonanno and Constance, 2008; Burch and Lawrence, 2007; Campbell and Dixon, 2009; Heffernan, 2000; Magdoff et al., 2000). The combination of food regimes theory with commodity systems analysis (Friedland, 1984) provided the terminology and framework that informed agrifood theory in the 1990s. Critiques of the neo-Marxist foundations of the agroindustrialization thesis (Goodman and Watts, 1994) grounded in social constructivist perspectives pushed agrifood theory beyond its structuralist and pessimistic outlook. As a result of these events, the sociology of agriculture expanded beyond production and the farm gate to include the global dimensions of complex commodity systems that linked global producers and consumers in shifting commodity chains. The farming styles approach is often referred to as the Wageningen School based at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. The Wageningen School employs a neo-Weberian actor-oriented approach, which criticizes both functionalist and Marxist approaches for ignoring the relevance of social agency. From this social constructivist view, diverse rural cultures interact with diverse national environments and economies to create diverse farming styles. This diversity of farming styles based on locale-speciﬁc farming structures, technologies, rationalities, and practices mitigate the homogenizing forces of the globalization (Arce and Marsden, 1993; Long and Long, 1992; Van der Ploeg, 1992, 2009). During the late 1990s, the ‘Food Question’ came to the fore and the substantive research area became known as the sociology of agrifood studies. The ‘Food Question’ investigates the relationship between the modern agrifood system and the quality of food. Commodity systems and globalization had taken the research beyond the farm gate to include how consumers were drivers of the agrifood system. Goodman’s (2003) ‘quality turn’ captured the growing interest in alternative agrifood systems, such as food sheds (Kloppenburg et al., 1996), regional food systems (Garrett and Feenstra, 1999), community-supported agriculture (DeLind, 2002), slow food (Miele and Murdoch, 2002), organics (Guthman, 2004), civic agriculture (Lyson, 2004), appellations (Barham, 2007), and agriculture of the middle (Lyson et al., 2008). The legitimation crisis regarding both the environmental and socioeconomic externalities of conventional, chemicalintensive, monoculture agriculture, such as poor nutrition, obesity, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, pesticide contamination, conﬁned animal feeding operations, animal welfare, and systematic rural depopulation had reached critical mass (Wright and Middendorf, 2008). Consumers were driving the agrifood system toward quality instead of commodity foods and researchers shifted their energies from the problems to the solutions of the agrifood system (Hinrichs and Lyson, 2007; The Meatrix (Fox and Sachs, 2003); Grocery Store Wars (Organic Trade Association (OTA) (2005)); King Corn (Woolf et al., 2007); 3 Lies About Food You’re Used to Hearing and Might Even Believe (Food Mythbusters and Lappe, 2013); Super Size Me (Spurlock, 2004); and Fast Food Nation (Schlosser, 2006)).
The newest focus of agrifood research addresses the ‘Emancipatory Question.’ It investigates the relationship between the structure of modern agriculture and the quality of civil rights for all participants. More speciﬁcally, it asks what kind of agrifood system might decrease injustice and inequality for farmers/ranchers/growers, farmworkers, food processing workers, and all consumers? How can we transform the agrifood system to be more socially, economically, and environmentally just (Allen, 2005; Hinrichs and Lyson, 2007; Thompson, 2010)? A central dimension of this research has been the discussion of the different position producers experience in commodity versus value chains. Commodity chains tend to be based on indirect sales of undifferentiated global commodities dominated by agribusiness TNCs, whereas value chains tend to be based on value-added dimensions of the chain (such as, organics) and attempts to share the value more equitably. Fair trade (Fair Trade International, 2013; Raynolds et al., 2007) has emerged as an attempt to shift some of the proﬁts along the value chain upstream toward the producers and avoid the power of the agribusiness TNCs that drive the conventional commodity chains. Agriculture of the middle (Lyson et al., 2008) has emerged as an attempt to provide opportunities for those midsized producers who are too large for direct sales but too small to compete in global commodity markets by creating identitypreserved, value-added products. Food policy councils (Winne, 2008) have emerged to bring all stakeholders to the same table in an effort to create and sustain an equitable agrifood system. At the international level, organizations, such as La Via Campesina, are pushing back against the corporate domination of the agrifood system, especially regarding GMO foods, and arguing that food is a sovereign right (La Via Campesina, 2013; Wittman et al., 2010). For many rural sociologists, alternative agriculture movements are viewed as the countervailing force to the corporate domination of the global agrifood system based on neoliberal restructuring that favors market-based governance over democratic institutions (Morgan et al., 2006).
Summary Rural sociology continues to be a diverse and vibrant ﬁeld of study. Professional rural sociological associations span the globe. This article provides an overview of rural sociology with particular attention paid to the substantive areas of the sociology of agricultural science and the sociology of agrifood studies (see RSS (2013) for other historical sources). The social, economic, and environmental implications of the globalization of the agrifood system, including the alternative responses to the dominant model, create a rich environment for a long and interesting discourse in the ﬁeld. A diverse array of social scientists including rural sociologists, agricultural economists, environmental sociologists, cultural geographers, cultural anthropologists, nutritionists, and others bring their particular disciplinary conceptual lenses to bear on the topic. The Four Questions framework (Constance, 2008) – Agrarian, Environmental, Food, and Emancipatory – spans disciplinary boundaries and is useful for organizing the ongoing discourse. Current issues, such as climate change, food sovereignty, land
grabs, governance, and genetically modiﬁed food occupy the cutting edge of new discourses. It is noteworthy that DuBois’ original concerns regarding sharecropping and contract production are still salient today as agribusiness TNCs, in particular the dominant food retailers, create ﬂexible commodity chains based on global sourcing. Recent research on the quality of life effects of industrial agriculture for rural people provides evidence in support of the critical perspective (Lobao and Stofferahn, 2008). Although the sociology of agrifood studies currently dominates the ﬁeld of rural sociology, the historical foci of population and community studies, stratiﬁcation studies, natural resource sociology, ES, and agricultural science studies continue to make theoretical and empirical contributions within those subareas. Similarly, although today the critical perspective enjoys some privilege over positivist approaches, both continue to inform social policy agendas and reﬂect divergent views of rural society. The issue of GMOs captures this point well. Although advocates invoke an adoption–diffusion perspective that presents GMOs as the answer to world hunger, opponents criticize GMOs as yet another example of industrial domination and marginalization of rural peoples.
Disclaimer This article is an update of the original article written by Buttel (1994). The early sections of this article follow closely Buttel’s original contribution and his later work (Summers and Buttel, 2000), whereas the later sections are informed by recent developments in the ﬁeld.
See also: Agricultural Ethics and Social Justice. Agricultural Labor: Gender Issues. Agricultural Labor: Labor Market Operation. Changing Structure and Organization of US Agriculture. Ecoagriculture: Integrated Landscape Management for People, Food, and Nature. Food Chain: Farm to Market. Global Food Supply Chains. Government Agricultural Policy, United States. Industrialized Farming and Its Relationship to Community Well-Being. Linkages of the Agricultural Sector: Models and Precautions. Policy Frameworks for International Agricultural and Rural Development. Social Justice: Preservation of Cultures in Traditional Agriculture
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Relevant Websites http://www.kingcorn.net/ Bullfrog Films: Movie, King Corn.
http://www.cfra.org/ Center for Rural Affairs. http://www.pbs.org/pov/foodinc/ Dogwoof Films: Movie, Food Inc. http://www.fairtrade.net/ Fair Trade International. http://www.upworthy.com/3-lies-about-food-youre-used-to-hearing-and-might-evenbelieve?c=ufb1 Food Mythbusters: Movie, 3 Lies About Food You're Used to Hearing and Might Even Believe. http://www.foxsearchlight.com/fastfoodnation/ Fox Searchlight Pictures: Movie, Fast Food Nation. http://www.themeatrix.com/ Free Range Studios: Movie, The Meatrix. http://viacampesina.org/en/ La Via Campesina. http://www.nfu.org/ National Farmers Union. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVrIyEu6h_E Organic Trade Association: Movie; Grocery Store Wars. http://www.hulu.com/#!watch/63283 Roadside Attractions: Movie, Super Size Me. http://www.ca.uky.edu/snarl/rss/Publications.htm Rural Sociological Association.