Our Theme

  • Equity, Democracy, and the Commons: Counter-narratives for Rural Transformation

    Contemporary rural development frequently engenders significant harms, especially for those least equipped to sustain them. While many people recognize that we are in the midst of multiple and deepening crises, there is little movement to address the deleterious social relations that underlie them. In spite of evidence of rising inequalities, resource concentration, climate change, persistent hunger, loss of bio- and cultural- diversity, and organized and informal violence, arguments about the costs and dangers of current practices do not seem to register. Alternative solutions are mostly absent from academic and popular discourse. ‘Business as usual’ is presented as the only way forward and hegemonic understandings of the lineages of recurring problems are not effectively challenged, despite the demonstrated hazards of cultivating monocultures of the field and mind.

    In 2014 in New Orleans, RSS participants are encouraged to present work that engages with the key social issues of equity and democracy, and with various aspects of the knowledge and material commons. How do such pivotal ideas help us to analyze the roots of rural development challenges as well as to distinguish genuine and lasting solutions? How are issues of narrative key, not just for understanding rural problems, but for communicating what is to be done and organizing people for action? The organizers invite the contribution of papers, sessions, roundtables and posters that provide alternative accounts of, explanations for, and responses to current impasses; promote dialogue between different systems of knowledge; tell stories about or with rural people representing diverse perspectives and standpoints; use creative means to present the results of research or engage participants; and provide fresh theoretical insights for rural sociology and new ideas about how we can participate in a more just and transformative rural development.