Thousands of small towns in rural America are being depopulated, or "hollowed out." The brightest and most ambitious young people, dubbed "Achievers" by husband and wife researchers Carr and Kefalas, abandon the heartland for greater challenges and rewards in cities. Their less talented and/or less ambitious brothers and sisters, the "Stayers," remain in places like smalltown Ohio, where the ethnographers surveyed 275 graduates of a local high school. Deft and detailed case studies bring the population to life, making the poor prognosis heartrending. While the authors insist that "with a plan and a vision" smalltown America can be revitalized, evidence to the contrary seems overwhelming. Globalization, the growth of agribusiness and the Achievers' hunger for "cultural vibrancy" suggest that the brain drain will not be replaced with a "brain gain"-despite the addition of scattered "Returners" and immigrants. Some analysts suggest that remaining human populations be relocated from the Great Plains and the land be restored to a vast Buffalo Commons, a "venue for bison and prairie restoration"; others foresee the region becoming a bastion for sustainable agriculture and green energy. Whatever the future may hold, the authors alert readers to this major change with clarity and compassion. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What It Means for Americaby Patrick J. Carr, Maria J. Kefalas
In 2001, with funding from the MacArthur Foundation, sociologists Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas moved to Iowa to understand the rural brain drain and the exodus of young people from America’s countryside. They met and followed working-class “stayers”; ambitious and college-bound “achievers”; “seekers,” who head off to war to see what the world beyond offers; and “returners,” who eventually circle back to their hometowns. What surprised them most was that adults in the community were playing a pivotal part in the town’s decline by pushing the best and brightest young people to leave.
In a timely, new afterword, Carr and Kefalas address the question “so what can be done to save our communities?” They profile the efforts of dedicated community leaders actively resisting the hollowing out of Middle America. These individuals have creatively engaged small town youth—stayers and returners, seekers and achievers—and have implemented a variety of programs to combat the rural brain drain. These stories of civic engagement will certainly inspire and encourage readers struggling to defend their communities.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
“An intriguing new book . . . [They] argue that it will take more than just free land initiatives to reverse rural America’s brain drain.”—Christina Gillham, Newsweek
“A fascinating study that brilliantly describes and analyzes the problems of rural towns in America that are emptying out.”—William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University
“The authors present a brave and daunting examination of why the most talented, the most productive young people leave our small towns. . . . This book is so generative, so fiercely compelling . . . I urge you to read it.”—Mildred Armstrong Kalish, author of Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression
“The undoing of Middle America is the great secret tragedy of our times. For shining a bright, unwavering light on the unfolding disaster, Carr and Kefalas deserve enormous credit.” —Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas?
“Deft and detailed case studies bring the population to life. . . . The authors alert readers to this major change with clarity and compassion.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A worthy contribution to a conversation we desperately need to have.”—Bill Kauffman, Wall Street Journal
“Deftly researched and written, this book is highly recommended for sociologists, educators, policymakers, and anyone concerned about the future of this country.”—Library Journal, starred review
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Meet the Author
Patrick J. Carr is associate professor of sociology at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and the author of Clean Streets. Maria J. Kefalas is a professor of sociology at Saint Joseph’s University, the author of Working-Class Heroes, and coauthor of Promises I Can Keep. The authors live outside Philadelphia.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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