Understanding Rural Social Class in an Era of Global Challenge
As a sociological construct, social class is as old as the discipline itself. Over its history, rural sociology has been captivated by the determinants, nature and consequences of social class. Rural sociologists study its interaction with land tenure, the expansion of corporate farming, race and ethnicity, patterns of migration and mobility, fossil fuel extraction, environmental justice, population health, rural poverty, and myriad other topics. The fact is that class matters and yet, even broadly defined, social class has not been invoked in an RSS meeting theme in decades. Growing and arguably unacceptable levels of inequality have given rise to conflict and tension that revolve around class. There are worries about the disappearing middle and emergence of a social “precariat” class, about the unsettling reality of blocked opportunities for those struggling to survive, and about shifting definitions of “success” in the midst of leveled aspirations, resource scarcity, and climate change.
Research and Interest Groups are invited to organize sessions that take up the intersection of social class within their respective domains of expertise. Plenary and special sessions will provide an opportunity for focused and cross-disciplinary consideration of the implications of class for rural areas in an era of global change. Finally, we will capitalize on our overlap with the 2016 Congress of the International Rural Sociology Association to explore these issues worldwide.
I invite those of you who share an interest in social class and rural to consider joining the Rural Sociological Society and joining us in Toronto, August 7 – 10, 2016. You do not have to be a sociologist or social scientist to be a member of RSS or to participate in our meetings we seek a diverse membership with varied insights and perspectives.
Leif Jensen, President Rural Sociological Society
Pennsylvania State University