“Change in Americas rural industries and communities is, in part, a story about the effects of a global economy, something often overlooked in treatments that depict rural America as a bastion of tradition and backwater folksiness.”
From the introduction
“Communities of Work is like a film from across America, written out with insightful analysis. It is a story of how change happens and how people adjust to it at work and in their social relationships.”
The image of rural America portrayed in this illuminating study is one that is vibrant, regionally varied, and sometimes heroic. Communities of Work focuses on the ways in which rural people and places are affected by political, social, and economic forces far outside their control and how they sustain themselves and their communities in response.
Bringing together the two fundamental concepts of community—where the relationships and practices of daily life occur—and work, in which an elementary exchange occurs, Communities of Work bridges several fields of study. Presented here is the contextual and embedded nature of social relations and the complexity involved in understanding them. Through the use of multiple case studies, the authors apply diverse theories and methods in seeking an integrated outcome, one captured by “communities of work.”
Beginning with a description of the broad changes in work and economic activities across the United States, ranging from the Ohio River Valley to a western boomtown, the book shifts its focus to the interplay of work, family, and local networks in time and place. Activities range from fishing in the Mississippi Delta to farming and family life in the Midwest. The authors then highlight how rural people and places respond to extra-local, increasingly global forces in settings as diverse as rural South Carolina and Wisconsin.
A certain communitarian theme runs through Communities of Work. It is about people and communities not merely reacting, but instead responding in ways that reflect their local culture, while being cognizant of the larger world within which they live.
Professor and chair of the department of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, William W. Falk published Forgotten Places: Uneven Development in Rural America (edited with Thomas A. Lyson) and In the Lion's Mouth: A Story about Race and Place in the American South (forthcoming).
Michael D. Schulman is a distinguished professor of sociology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, with a dual appointment in public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He specializes in studying the stresses of changing rural environments.
Ann R. Tickamyer is a professor of rural sociology and head of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at Pennsylvania State University. She is the coeditor of Communities of Work: Rural Restructuring in Local and Global Contexts, also from Ohio University Press.
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