- Princeton University Press
The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America
- Robert Wuthnow
- Princeton University Press
- 8.6 X 5.5 X 0.9 inches
- 0.8 pounds
- Social Science > Sociology - Rural
How a fraying social fabric is fueling the outrage of rural Americans
What is fueling rural America's outrage toward the federal government? Why did rural Americans vote overwhelmingly for Donald Trump? And, beyond economic and demographic decline, is there a more nuanced explanation for the growing rural-urban divide? Drawing on more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, Robert Wuthnow brings us into America's small towns, farms, and rural communities to paint a rich portrait of the moral order--the interactions, loyalties, obligations, and identities--underpinning this critical segment of the nation. Wuthnow demonstrates that to truly understand rural Americans' anger, their culture must be explored more fully.
We hear from farmers who want government out of their business, factory workers who believe in working hard to support their families, town managers who find the federal government unresponsive to their communities' needs, and clergy who say the moral climate is being undermined. Wuthnow argues that rural America's fury stems less from specific economic concerns than from the perception that Washington is distant from and yet threatening to the social fabric of small towns. Rural dwellers are especially troubled by Washington's seeming lack of empathy for such small-town norms as personal responsibility, frugality, cooperation, and common sense. Wuthnow also shows that while these communities may not be as discriminatory as critics claim, racism and misogyny remain embedded in rural patterns of life.
Moving beyond simplistic depictions of the residents of America's heartland, The Left Behind offers a clearer picture of how this important population will influence the nation's political future.
Robert Wuthnow is Gerard R. Andlinger ’52 Professor of Sociology Emeritus and former director of the Princeton University Center for the Study of Religion. He is the author of more than three dozen books and numerous articles about religion, civil society, communities, and American culture.
His major publications about religion include The Restructuring of American Religion: Society and Faith Since World War II; God and Mammon in America; After Heaven: Spirituality in America Since the 1950s; Boundless Faith: The Global Outreach of American Churches; The God Problem: Expressing Faith and Being Reasonable; and most recently What Happens When we Practice Religion? Textures of Devotion in Ordinary Life. A recurring interest in his work on American religion has been its intersection with changing social and cultural conditions. Another interest has been the impact of immigration, which he addressed most specifically in America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity. His work on religion has also been concerned with the relationship of spirituality and the arts, most notably in Creative Spirituality: The Way of the Artist and All in Sync: How Music and Art Are Revitalizing American Religion.
Among his publications on civil society and communities are Acts of Compassion: Caring for Others and Helping Ourselves; Poor Richard’s Principle: Recovering the American Dream through the Moral Dimension of Work, Business, and Money; Saving America? Faith-Based Services and the Future of Civil Society; and most recently Why Religion Is Good for American Democracy. His work on communities has spanned topics ranging from the alleged breakdown of community solidarity, which he addressed in Loose Connections: Joining Together in America’s Fragmented Communities, to a study of micro communities in Sharing the Journey: Support Groups and America’s New Quest for Community, to a series of studies focusing on social change in small towns and rural areas, including Remaking the Heartland: Middle America Since the 1950s; Small-Town America: Finding Community, Shaping the Future; In the Blood: Understanding America’s Farm Families; and The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Small-Town America.
The interest in cultural sociology that runs through much of his work includes several of his early publications such as Meaning and Moral Order: Explorations in Cultural Analysis and Communities of Discourse and more recent work on such topics as the cultural construction of fear in Be Very Afraid: The Cultural Response to Terror, Pandemics, Environmental Devastation, Nuclear Annihilation, and Other Threats and the role of “othering” in American Misfits and the Making of Middle Class Respectability.
Methodologically, he has been a proponent of mixed methods combining surveys and in-depth qualitative interviews and has been a critic of reliance on flawed surveys in his book Inventing American Religion: Polls, Surveys, and the Tenuous Quest for a Nation’s Faith. He has also made extensive use of historical materials in his writing about religion and politics, two examples of which are Red State Religion: Faith and Politics in America’s Heartland and Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-belt State.
Reviews of his work, interviews, and op-ed essays have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Books and Culture, Vox, America, Christian Century, and Christianity Today.
Wuthnow has chaired the sociology department at Princeton, served as President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Eastern Sociological Society, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society, and has received numerous honors and awards for his research, teaching, and publications.
Source: Princeton University Department of Sociology
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