Spatial Inequality and Rural Areas

Authored by: Gregory Hooks , Linda M. Lobao , Ann R. Tickamyer

Routledge International Handbook of Rural Studies

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138804371
eBook ISBN: 9781315753041
Adobe ISBN: 9781317619864


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As global economic, social and environmental changes alter the fortunes of populations differently across geographic settings, social science attention to spatial disparities has become critical. In this chapter, we provide an overview of the literature on spatial inequality and how it applies to the study of rural populations. By spatial inequality, we refer to a thematic body of work that cross-cuts the social sciences and is relevant to nations across the globe. Spatial inequality addresses how and why valued resources vary across places, and how places themselves become markers and makers of inequality. This tradition bridges the geographic and non-geographic social sciences, combining sociology’s and other disciplines’ interest in social inequality with a concern for uneven development. Researchers ask, ‘Who gets what, where and why?’ They seek to answer, for example, how and why economic, social, health and other forms of well-being and inequalities of race, class and gender vary and intersect across geographic entities (e.g., localities, states, provinces, regions). And conversely, researchers are interested in how geographic context itself contributes to the reproduction (or potential alleviation) of inequalities among individuals, households and community populations. This tradition thus overall recognises both the importance of where actors are located in geographic space and that geographic entities themselves are moulded by stratification processes of uneven development and in turn mould stratification among their populations.

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