New Realities in an Urbanizing World
Publication date:19 October 2016
Length of book:246 pages
Reinventing Rural is a collection of original research papers that examine the ways in which rural people and places are changing in the context of an urbanizing world. This includes exploring the role of the environment, the economy, and related issues such as tourism. While traditionally relying on primary sector work in agriculture, mining, natural resources, and the like, rural areas are finding new ways to sustain themselves. This involves a new emphasis on environmental protection, as one important strategy has been to capitalize on natural amenities to attract residents and tourists. Beyond improvements to the economy are general improvements to the quality-of-life in rural communities. Consistent with this, the volume focuses on the two cornerstones of education and health, considering current challenges and offering ideas for reinventing rural quality-of-life.
A dozen sociologists and interdisciplinary interlocutors theorize recent and ongoing transformations of rural life, with an overall geographical focus on the eastern and northeastern US. Topics covered include health, education, the “rural mystique,” tourism, environment, and economic revitalization efforts. Among studies of rural change, this volume is notable for its attention to the effects of energy development in rural areas, with chapters dedicating some attention to mountaintop removal techniques in mining, former coal towns, and oil/gas extraction. Several of the authors make instructive use of the concept of “urbanormativity,” which they define as the widespread tendency to cast urban lifeways as the default, with a resulting rural dependence on cities and easy degradation of rural life. Although the volume is enriched by careful case studies, many contributors are not shy about long-term and large-scale theorization of rural change, linking contemporary transformations to patterns of rural/urban interaction that extend back to the Neolithic and are shaped by the “planetary boundaries” of biodiversity, the nitrogen cycle, and climate change. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, faculty, specialists.