SOC 474 SOC/COD 574


Printer Friendly Version
Readings Learning
Policies and



View the proposal for the research project here.
  Course Information:



Meeting Place:  229 Kethley Hall CRN:   SOC 474: 16540
Meeting Times:  Tuesday, 6:00 – 9:00 pm   SOC 574: 16544
    COD 574: 16555


Instructor: Dr. Alan Barton  
Office: 214 Kethley Hall Telephone: (662) 846-4097
Office Hours:  During Spring semester, 2008, the instructor holds regular office hours at the following times:


Tuesday  2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Wednesday  4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Thursday  9:00 am – 10:45 am; 2:15 pm – 4:30 pm

View Dr. Barton's Spring 2008 schedule.
If you cannot make one of these times, contact the professor to set up an appointment.


Course Webpage:  Additional materials and updated course information can be found on the course webpage:


  Course Overview:


Rural sociology has long been an important subfield of the general discipline of sociology.  Although sociology generally focuses on modern society, and thus urbanization and urban areas, these could not exist without rural areas.  Rural sociologists study the connections between rural and urban areas, as well as characteristics of rural people.  In this course we will study the state of social conditions in rural America, focusing on social relations and social institutions.  We will pay particular attention to economic conditions, race and sustainable development.  You will engage the course material through readings, class discussions, and practical projects.


Required Readings:


David L. Brown and Louis E. Swanson. (2003). Challenges for Rural America in the Twenty-First Century. The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA. (ISBN: 0-271-02242-6).


Jennifer Sumner. (2007). Sustainability and the Civil Commons: Rural Communities in the Age of Globalization. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (ISBN: 978-0-8020-9527-5).


William W. Falk. (2004). Rooted in Place: Family and Belonging in a Southern Black Community. Rutgers University Press, Piscataway, NJ. (ISBN: 0-8135-3465-8).

Mark Schultz. (2005). The Rural Face of White Supremacy: Beyond Jim Crow. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL. (ISBN: 0-252-02960-7).

The books can be purchased through the university bookstore.  You should make arrangements to complete all of the reading assignments.  There will also be occasional handouts to supplement the books.


L. Gary Hart, Eric H. Larson, and Denise M. Lishner. (2005). Rural Definitions for Health Policy and Research. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 95, No. 7, pp. 1149–1155.  Available from the Full Text Electronic Journals on the DSU Library Website.

Rosalind P. Harris, Jeffrey C. Bridger, Carolyn E. Sachs, and Suzanne E. Tallichet. (1995). Empowering Rural Sociology: Exploring and Linking Alternative Paradigms in Theory and Methodology. Rural Sociology 60(4):585–606.  Click here to access this paper.

Wilton Corkern. (2004). Heritage Tourism: Where Public and History Don't Always Meet. American Studies International, Vol. 42, No. 2/3, pp. 7–16. Available from the Full Text Electronic Journals in the DSU Library.

Ann E. Eskridge. (1998). Discovering the Power of History. American Visions, Vol. 13, No. 5, pp. 44–47. Available from the Full Text Electronic Journals in the DSU Library.

Shaila K. Dewan. (2004). "Civil Rights Battlegrounds Enter World of Tourism." New York Times, August 10. Available on the New York Times webpage,; Search archives for "Civil Rights Battlegrounds Enter World of Tourism."

Delta Center for Culture and Learning. (N.D.). The Mound Bayou, Mississippi, Story. Delta State University, Cleveland, MS. Handout.

Sally Avery Bermanzohn. (2000). Violence, Nonviolence, and the Civil Rights Movement. New Political Science, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 31–48.  Available from the Full Text Electronic Journals in the DSU Library.


Greta de Jong. (2005). Staying in Place: Black Migration, The Civil Rights Movement, and the War on Poverty in the Rural South. Journal of African American History, Vol. 90, No. 4, pp. 387–409.  Available from the Full Text Electronic Journals in the DSU Library.

Veronica L. Womack. (2007). Continued Abandonment in Dixie: No More Policy as Usual. Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, Vol. 13, pp. 41–53.

Alan W. Barton. (2005). Attitudes About Heritage Tourism in the Mississippi Delta: A Policy Report from the 2005 Delta Rural Poll.
Policy Paper No. 05-02, Center for Community and Economic Development. Delta State University, Cleveland, MS. December, 2005.  Click here to access this paper.

Recommended Readings:

Andrew M. Isserman. (2005). In the National Interest: Defining Rural and Urban Correctly in Research and Public Policy. International Regional Science Review, Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 465–499.  Available from Interlibrary Loan on the DSU Library Website.

James C. Cobb. (1992). The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity. Oxford University Press, New York. (ISBN: 0-19-508913-8).

Cornelia Butler Flora and Jan L. Flora. (2008). Rural Communities: Legacy and Change, Third Edition. Westview Press, Boulder, CO. [or see the Second Edition published in 2003, available in the DSU Library].

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. (2006). Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States. Second Edition. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Lanham, MD.

Kenneth T. Andrews. (2004). Freedom is a Constant Struggle: The Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and Its Legacy. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.


  Course Organization and Approach:


This course uses a participatory, learner-centered, adult education approach.  An adult education approach recognizes that you are responsible for your own learning.  The professor can only provide opportunities to learn, but cannot force you to learn.  You are expected to work hard in this course, meaning that for every hour of class time, you should spend at least three hours outside of class preparing by doing readings, assignments, studying for quizzes and exams, and thinking about the course material.


You are expected to take responsibility for the success of the course, that is, you should take an active interest not just in the course material, but in the course itself, making it a success for all participants.  Factors such as interest, motivation, creativity, and initiative are important elements in evaluating your performance and assigning a grade.


Course material is presented in several formats, including class discussions, readings, and practical exercises.  Readings on current issues in rural sociology are presented in the assigned chapters in the book Challenges for Rural America in the Twenty-first Century by David Brown and Lou Swanson, and in several assigned articles.  Other books present specific topics pertaining to rural areas.  Sustainability and the Civil Commons, by Jennifer Sumner, examines the intersection between community and globalization in the search for as more sustainable form of social development.  Two books examine the issue of race in the Southern United States, which will frame our course project on Civil Rights Tourism as a basis of community and economic development.  The Rural Face of White Supremacy, by Mark Schultz, looks at race relations in one county in Georgia and argues that characteristics unique to rural areas frame racial issues differently than in urban areas.  Rooted in Place, by William Falk, illustrates the idea of community in rural areas, focusing on one African American family in the rural South.


We will focus on the following sociological concepts this semester.  Our objective is to understand these concepts better by illustrating them in the readings, class discussions and practical exercises.


•Rural •Race •Social Change
•Community •Civil Rights •Demography
•Social Institutions •Civil Society •Technology
•Tourism •Development •Globalization
  Learning Opportunities:

You must complete the following assignments:


(1) Engaging in Class Discussions (20 points)

• You are expected to do all of the assigned readings and attend all class sessions;

• You are expected to engage actively in classroom discussions, reflecting on the topic and readings;

• The quality of contributions to class discussions is more important than the quantity of contributions.


(2) Leading Class Discussions (30 points)

• You will lead class discussions on the assigned readings during the semester; the readings will be divided up among the students in the course;

• Your responsibilities are to get other students talking about the topic, to mediate the contributions of other students, to keep the discussion focused, and to guide the discussion to ensure that the social and policy issues are covered.
• Each discussion should last approximately 50 minutes.

Additional Resources:

• Click here for guidelines on leading a discussion

• Click here for a schedule of discussion leaders


(3) Current Topics in Rural America (20 points)

• You will lead one 20-minute discussion on topics of current interest pertaining to rural America;

• First, select a recent article from a newspaper that presents a topic of interest to rural residents;
• One week before your discussion, distribute a copy of your article to other class members, and submit a copy to the instructor;

• During your presentation, present a short summary of the article to the class, focusing on the social or policy issue;

• Facilitate a class discussion on the topic, encouraging participation by all members of the class;

• Your responsibility is get class members talking about the social and policy issues, using the article as an example.


Additional Resources:

• Click here for a schedule of Current Topics discussion leaders

(4) Group Project: Civil Rights Tourism in the Mississippi Delta (40 points)

• Over the course of the semester, you will engage in a group project centered on the development of a heritage area in the Mississippi Delta;

• You will work in teams to complete this project, but each class member will conduct an independent study and write an individual paper;

• We will focus on Civil Rights as a heritage theme in the Mississippi Delta, and conduct qualitative research on this project, using interviews;

• You should have a specific research question that you want to study, and team up with one other classmate who has a similar question to collect data;

• Working with your teammate, identify subjects to interview.  During the 8th – 10th weeks of the semester, you will set up and conduct these interviews;

• We will review procedures for the interviews in class and readings;

• Once you have completed the interviews, organize and analyze your results; Each group member can use the results from all of the interviews;

• Submit a 15-page paper in which you discuss the particular issue and present your results, using quotes from your interviews as evidence to support your points; Each group member will submit a paper addressing his/her own unique research question;

• You will present the results of your research project to the rest of the class at the end of the semester.

Additional Resources:

    • Click here for more information on the papers/projects
• Click here for groups and topics

    • Click here to view the proposal for the research project

    • Click here to download the IRB letter and informed consent form

    • Click here to download the guidelines for informed consent

(5) Engagement (+/- 10 points)

• A total of 10 points may be added or subtracted from your final grade to reflect the degree of engagement in the course that you exhibit;

• Engaged students demonstrate qualities such as motivation, extra effort, interest in the course material, improvement over the course of the semester and leadership;
• Lack of engagement is manifested by frequent absences, talking with others or dozing off in class, lack of interest in the course material, lack of preparation, and lack of participation in course activities.



There are a total of 100 points available for the semester.  Your final score is simply the sum of all points earned over the semester.  If you accumulate 90 or more points over the course of the semester, you will get an “A” in the course.  If you accumulate 80 to 89 points, you will get a “B,” for 70 to 79 points you will get a “C,” and for 60 to 69 points you will get a “D.”  If you get less than 60 points, your final grade will be an “F.”  Note that you start with zero and earn points; you do not start with 100 and lose points.


  Policies and Expectations:



YOU are responsible for learning the course material and for your progress in the course.  You are expected to attend class regularly and complete all of the assignments.  You are expected to know all material presented during class sessions, whether you attended the class or not.  If you miss a class session, you should check with another student to see what you missed.  “I didn’t know” is NEVER a valid excuse.  If you don’t know something, it is your job to find out.

Learning Opportunities:

You are responsible for completing all of the assigned work in this course in a timely fashion.  Assigned work is designed to provide you with learning opportunities, and all work is due at the time specified; no late assignments will be accepted, and missed assignments cannot be made up.  If you miss class or an assignment, you are making a choice that prioritizes other activities above the class, and you will receive a grade of zero for any assignment that you fail to turn in.

ALL work that you submit (except in-class work) should be typed/word processed.  If you submit a paper with more than one sheet, please attach all sheets with a staple or paper clip BEFORE you bring the assignment to class to turn in.  The instructor will NOT ACCEPT work that is handwritten or that has multiple pages that are not attached with a staple or paper clip.


You are expected to attend all class sessions and activities.  Please make sure that you sign the roll sheet at each class meeting, as this will serve as official documentation of your attendance.  If you miss class, you must document your absence, or points will be deducted from your grade (See the information on grading attendance).  Please notify the instructor IN ADVANCE if you must miss class.  It is in your interest to provide the instructor with written notification (e.g. a note or e-mail) to document any missed classes.  It is risky simply to tell the instructor and expect him to remember.

Illnesses and Emergencies:
Illnesses and emergencies MUST be documented with a note from a doctor or other professional.  You should bring the note to the next class meeting and submit it to the instructor.  Illnesses and emergencies pertain only to the student, not to the student’s family, friends or others. 

University Activities:  If you must miss class for an official university activity, you should make arrangements with the instructor BEFORE the missed class.  Appropriate documentation is required.

Making Up Missed Work:  If you miss an exam or other assignment due to a documented illness, emergency or official university activity, a make up will be given at the end of the semester.  The make-up exam will be an oral exam with the instructor, in which you will be required to respond to a series of questions

You are responsible for all material presented in all classes, even during an excused absence.  You should get class notes from another student for all class sessions you miss.

Class Participation:

Class participation is an important element in this course.  The purpose of class discussions is to provide you with an opportunity to practice thinking skills in a safe environment.  In discussions, you are encouraged to explore ideas presented in the readings and lectures, to think about and apply concepts, and to develop arguments and evaluate evidence.

If you repeatedly engage in disruptive behaviors during class discussions, you will be asked to leave the classroom.

  • You must demonstrate appropriate respect for the opinions and ideas of other students during class discussions.  It is acceptable (and encouraged) to disagree with the perspectives of other students or the instructor, but you should phrase this to show disagreement with the idea or opinion, not with the person presenting the idea or opinion.  If you repeatedly show disrespect for other class members, you will be asked to leave the classroom.
  • Class discussions are NOT a time to chat with other students about topics not related to the course.  Talking privately with other students while the rest of the class is trying to carry on a discussion is disruptive, bothersome, and disrespectful to other students and to the professor.  If you repeatedly speak when you do not have the floor, you will be asked to leave the classroom.
  • Class is NOT a time to catch up on your sleep.  If you are not prepared to stay awake and participate in class discussions and other activities, you should not come to class.  If you continually fall asleep during class sessions, you will be asked to leave the classroom.

If you are asked to leave the classroom for disruptive or disrespectful behavior, you cannot make up any work that you miss as a result.

Electronic Devices (Cell Phones, Pagers, etc.):

Please make sure that all cell phones, pagers, and similar electronic devices are turned off during class time.  If your phone or pager repeatedly interrupts class, you will be asked to leave the classroom.

DO NOT bring cell phones or other portable communication devices to class during quizzes, exams, or in-class assignments.  If the instructor sees a cell phone or other device during a quiz, exam or in-class assignment, you will receive a grade of zero on the quiz, exam or in-class assignment, and you will be asked to leave the classroom.

If you must have a cell phone or pager (e.g. if you are a volunteer fireman or emergency responder), you MUST make arrangements with the instructor in advance.

Academic Honesty:

You are expected to comply with all academic standards and ethics as defined in the DSU Bulletin and Handbook.  You are expected to do your own work in this course.  Plagiarism and other forms of cheating will NOT be tolerated.

You should be fully aware of the
Course Policy on Plagiarism and Cheating.  If you are caught cheating in this course, you will be dismissed from the course with a grade of "F."  In addition, a report will be filed with the university's Vice President for Academic Affairs.

IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO UNDERSTAND THESE GUIDELINES.  Make sure you know what constitutes plagiarism and cheating BEFORE turning in any assignments.  Once you turn in an assignment, you are representing it as your own work.  If you are suspected of committing plagiarism, pleas of “I didn’t know what plagiarism was” will not be accepted.

If you are not sure what constitutes plagiarism, see the DSU Library's "
Plagiarism Prevention: A Guide for Students."  The Course Policy on Plagiarism and Cheating also outlines examples of plagiarism.  If it is still unclear, see the instructor.

Special Accommodations:

Appropriate accommodations will be made for students with medical problems or diagnosed disabilities.  Have Dr. Richard Houston at
Reily Student Health Center (846-4690) contact the course instructor to make arrangements.


  Course Outline:



Topics & Assignments


Week 1:  Course Introduction


Jan 8

Course Overview and Expectations; Review Syllabus


What is Rural? Required:  Hart et al. (2005)
Recommended:  Isserman (2005)
Recommended:  Webpages

Week 2:  Defining Rural America


Jan 15

Who Lives in Rural America? Challenges:  Ch. 1 (Johnson), pp. 19–31; Ch. 5 (MacTavish & Salamon), pp. 73–85
Approaches to Studying Rural America Harris, Bridger, Sachs & Tallichet (1995)
Course Project Introduction to the Group Project

Week 3:  Economic Conditions in Rural America


Jan 22

Restructuring Rural Economies Challenges:  Ch. 10 (McGranahan), pp. 135–151; Ch. 11 (Falk & Lobao), pp. 152–165
Civil Rights Tourism Corkern (2004); Eskridge (1998); Dewan (2004)
Course Project:  Selecting a Research Question Slides

Week 4:  Economic Conditions in Rural America


Jan 29

The Effects of Globalization Challenges: Ch. 18 (Bonanno & Constance), pp. 241–251; Ch. 29 (McMichael), pp. 375–384
Globalization in Rural Areas Sumner, Intro, Ch. 1 & 2, pp. 3–58
Current Topics in Rural America Handout (Newspaper Articles)

Week 5:  Economic Conditions in Rural America


Feb 5

Poverty in Rural America Challenges: Ch. 9 (Jensen, McLaughlin & Slack), pp. 118–131; Ch. 28 (Zimmerman & Hirschl), pp. 363–374
The Basis of Sustainable Development Sumner, Ch. 3 & 4, pp. 59–92
Course Project: Constructing an Interview Questionnaire  



Topics & Assignments


Week 6:  Community in Rural America


Feb 12

Make up for cancelled class  
Course Project: Identifying Interview Subjects The Mound Bayou Mississippi Story
Civil Rights Tourism and the
Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area
•Dr. Luther Brown, Delta Center for Culture and Learning and Assoc. Dean for Delta Regional Development
•Dr. Henry Outlaw, Delta Center and College of Arts & Sciences
•Mr. Jerome Little, Emmett Till Commission and Chair, Tallahatchie County Board of Supervisors

Week 7:  Social Relations in Rural America

Feb 19

Sustaining Community in a Global World Challenges: Ch. 17 (Lyson & Tolbert), pp. 228–238; Ch. 26 (Green), pp. 343–352
Sustainable Alternatives Sumner, Ch. 5 & 6, pp. 93–131
Current Topics in Rural America Handout (Newspaper Articles)

Week 8:  Social Relations in Rural America


Feb 26

The Civil Rights Movement in the Mississippi Delta: An Ongoing Project Guests:
•Ms. Sarah Leonard, MSCD, Mississippi State University
•Ms. Linda Stringfellow, Center for Community and Economic Development
Race & Ethnicity Challenges:  Ch. 2 (Harris & Worthen), pp. 32–42; Bremanzohn (2000)
Race in Rural America Schultz, Intro, Ch. 1 & 2, pp. 1–65
Course Project: Institutional Review Board Requirements and Research Ethics; Recording and Transcribing Interviews Review Institutional Review
Board Webpage

Week 9:  Heritage Tourism in the Mississippi Delta


Mar 4

Race in the American South Womack (2007); De Jong (2005)
Race in Rural America Schultz, Ch. 3, 4 & 5, pp. 66–174
Course Project: Analyzing Interview Data  



Mar 11

Spring Holidays


Week 10:  Social Relations in Rural America


Mar 18

Heritage Tourism as a Community Development Strategy Challenges: Ch. 14 (Krannich & Petrzelka), pp. 190–199; Barton (2005)
Race in Rural America Schultz, Ch. 6 & Epilogue, pp. 175–223
Course Project: Interpreting Interview Data  



Topic & Assignments


Week 11:  Social Institutions in Rural America


Mar 25

Health Care & Religion Challenges: Ch. 22 (Morton), pp. 290–302; Ch. 20 (Glenna), pp. 262–272
Current Topics in Rural America Handout (Newspaper articles)
Course Project: Writing a Research Report  

Week 12:  Social Institutions in Rural America


Apr 1

Making a Living Challenges: Ch. 13 (Buttel), pp. 177–189; Ch. 24 (England and Brown), pp. 317–328
Work in Rural America Rooted in Place: Intro, Appendix, Ch. 1 & 2, pp. 1–50, 191–199
Course Project: Discussion  

Week 13:  Social Institutions in Rural America


Apr 8

Education & Rural Youth

Challenges: Ch. 7 (Lichter, Roscigno & Condron), pp. 97–108; Ch. 21 (Beaulieu, Israel & Wimberley), pp. 273–289

Gender, Education, Religion Rooted in Place:  Ch. 3–5, pp. 51–117
Course Project: Discussion  

Week 14:  Social Institutions in Rural America


Apr 15

Changes in Rural Governance Challenges: Ch. 27 (Sharp & Parisi), pp. 353–362; Ch. 19 (Warner), pp. 252–261
Race and Place Rooted in Place:  Ch. 6–8, pp. 118–190
Course Project: Discussion Guest:
•Ms. Margaret Block, Poet and Civil Rights Activist

Week 15:  The Future of Rural America 


Apr 22

Challenges for Rural Development Challenges: Ch. 30 (Pigg & Bradshaw), pp. 385–396; Conclusion (Swanson & Brown), pp. 397–405
Course Project: Discuss Results Submit Paper

Week 16:  Dead Week


May 6

Course Project: Discuss Results Class Presentations of Projects


  Additional Resources:

Professional Organizations:

Rural Sociological Society

Southern Rural Sociological Association

International Rural Sociology Association

European Society for Rural Sociology

American Sociological Association

Academic Programs in Rural Sociology:

Cornell University

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pennsylvania State University

University of Missouri

Iowa State University

University of Kentucky

Auburn University

University of Arkansas

Texas A&M University

Mississippi State University

Washington State University

Ohio State University

of Illinois

Utah State University

Wageningen University (Netherlands)

University of Alberta (Canada)


Readings Learning
Policies and