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Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date:
June 2024
Print publication year:
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Book description

We often hear that there is no way out of the modern economic and political tensions that fall along geographic lines. The media regularly declares that rural America is dying and that rural voters are driven only by anger. This narrative of hopelessness centers on the role that markets have played in abandoning rural regions and populations. In Reviving Rural America, Ann M. Eisenberg analyzes our society's laws and policies' role in the urban/rural divide to make the case for hope. She demonstrates how law and policy, as well as decision-makers acting on their own subjective values, have contributed to modern rural challenges. Each chapter debunks a common myth about rural people, places, and policies, helping reveal how we got to where we are now. Ultimately calling for our laws and policies to steward rural America holistically, as a collective resource for all, this book envisions an alternative, more resilient and more just future.


‘Eisenberg provides a sweeping condemnation of those tending to ridicule the rural in politics and practice, while she gives us hope for a common path forward.'

Loka Ashwood - University of Kentucky

‘This important and timely book tells a story of rural America that we rarely hear. It is a story that fosters greater understanding of the structural forces that shape rural livelihoods, and thus also makes space for sympathy for the populations at the mercy of those forces.'

Lisa Pruitt - University of California, Davis School of Law

‘Expansive in range, meticulously researched, and expertly argued, Reviving Rural America represents a much needed antidote to a spate of myths and misconceptions that justify the continued neglect of the rural US. In chapters that take on myths ranging from rural decline, to radicalism, to obsolescence, she illustrates how rural America's struggles are neither natural nor inevitable, but rather the direct outcomes of decades of policies and choices that resulted in the exploitation of rural resources and underinvestment into rural communities, often in the name of market supremacy and neoliberal ideals. The book goes beyond explaining why rural areas are struggling or why rural people are frustrated, to propose a framework for creating just and sustainable policy solutions for the reinvigoration and renewal of rural America. Most importantly, Reviving Rural America makes the case for why rural America matters and is worth saving. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the challenges faced by rural places and people in the twenty-first century.'

Jennifer Sherman - Washington State University

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