New book on rural poverty in the U.S. co-edited by rural sociology professor

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Poverty in America is not uniform and varies from place to place, but rural areas have always held a disproportionate share of the nation’s poorest.

A new publication, “Rural Poverty in the United States," co-edited by Ann Tickamyer, professor of rural sociology at Penn State, examines why the geography, demography and history of rural communities keeps them poor, in a comprehensive analysis that extends from the Civil War to the present.

According to Tickamyer, the publication explores access to human and social capital; food security; healthcare and the environment; homelessness; gender roles and relations; racial inequalities; and immigration trends, to isolate the underlying causes of persistent rural poverty, and came about due to a need in the field. “About 25 years ago I was part of a task force that published the book ‘Persistent Poverty in Rural America,'" she said. "Since then there has been no comprehensive examination of what is known about rural poverty, so when Columbia University Press reached out to me about putting together an interdisciplinary publication, I was eager to embrace the project.”

Contributors to the publication incorporate multiple disciplines, including sociology, economics, demography, race and gender studies, public health, education, criminal justice, social welfare and other social science fields, to appeal to a broad audience. Chapters are categorized into sections including "Geography and Demography of Rural America," "Key Concepts and Issues for Understanding Rural Poverty," "Vulnerable Populations in Rural Places," "Community and Societal Institutions," "Programs," "Policy," and "Politics."

“The chapters take a hard look at current and past rural poverty programs and suggest alternatives that could improve the well-being of rural Americans, along with specific metrics and markers, which are critical for building better policy and practices,” said Tickamyer.

Additionally, many of the sections feature case studies that illustrate chapter topics, such as violence against women in America’s heartland, homeless students in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale Gas region, and Louisiana shrimpers facing globalization, allowing the reader in-depth, multi-faceted explorations of complex issues in their real-life settings.

Other co-editors of the publication are Jennifer Sherman, associate professor of sociology at Washington State University, and Jennifer Warlick, associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Notre Dame.

Tickamyer is also the coeditor of “Economic Restructuring and Family Well-Being in Rural America” and coauthor of “Power, Change, and Gender Relations in Rural Java: A Tale of Two Villages." She received her doctorate in sociology from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and has been a professor at Penn State for more than seven years, having previously served as the department head of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education in the College of Agricultural Sciences. She is also an affiliate of the Population Research Institute, part of the Social Science Research Institute at Penn State.

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Last Updated September 06, 2017