Rural Communities: Legacy and Change

Rural Communities: Legacy and Change

Rural Communities: Legacy and Change

Rural Communities: Legacy and Change

Excerpt

When we first conceived the Rural Communities: Legacy and Change project, we wanted to provide a textbook that would allow those using it to better understand rural communities and empower them to act to make those communities better places to live, work, and play. We were convinced that basic sociological concepts could build that understanding.

The first edition of Rural Communities: Legacy and Change was written to accompany a video series (see appendix) by the same name for PBS. We used that edition for many years in conjunction with the video series and found that as the field of community studies advanced, we needed to update it. This led to a substantial reorganization in the second edition, in which we added the community capitals. We found this version helpful, but again, the field progressed and the situation facing rural communities continued to change.

The Great Recession of 2007–2009 and the still-slow recovery of jobs, along with environmental change, are major external drivers that we incorporate into our discussion of all the capitals. Understanding these external drivers is critical in analyzing change at the community level and how legacy can contribute to communities taking charge of their own futures.

In the fourth edition we have applied our experiences using the book with classes and communities with a focus on the community capitals. We continue using the assets represented in the capitals as a primary analytical tool and a strategy for community change. In addressing community change, we use the power approach, which is a more appropriate way of building permanent organizations within and across communities than an emphasis on conflict. Both are designed to create systemic change and more access by all to the community capitals.

We have updated tables, figures, cases, and data in the text when reliable new data were available. We have found that federal statistics are no longer . . .

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