Persistent Poverty in Rural America


Why does rural poverty persist? Despite a variety of programs and policies that have attempted to improve the lot of the poor over the past twenty-five years, rural poverty not only persists but is getting worse. The Rural Sociological Society Task Force on Persistent Rural Poverty was organized to search for answers that will lead to effective solutions. A team of more than fifty leading social scientists- anthropologists, economists, geographers, political scientists, social workers, and sociologists- worked together to examine all the leading explanations; to seek out logical flaws, obsolete beliefs, and factually discredited ideas; and to analyze incomplete explanations. This important volume presents the Task Force's findings. The Task Force report explains that the "culture of poverty" theory is logically flawed and lacks factual support and that the human capital and economic organization theories are incomplete. Alone, none of these theories provides an adequate explanation for persistent rural poverty. The book reveals new directions in theory that should provide a firmer foundation for antipoverty programs and policies: Gender, race, and ethnicity must be explicitly integrated into explanations of poverty; local events and processes need to be linked to global changes; and explanations for the intergenerational transmission of poverty should be looked for in community social structures. The Task Force also explores how macrolevel economics and national and state actions contribute to the persistence of rural poverty.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Boulder, CO
Publication year:
  • 1993


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