•  
  •  
 

“Why Are You Still Out There?” Persistence among Deep Rural Communities in the Northern Plains

Introduction

In the face of on-going population loss and despite all dire warnings to the contrary, the clear persistence of certain rural communities continues in unexpected areas of the Great Plains. It is this persistence that is becoming the most difficult element to explain. Thus, this paper turns the traditional research question on its head and asks why some deep rural communities endure. As a result, we introduce a new concept in rural studies-community persistence-and, consequently, we advance a theoretical model to explain why some communities survive without natural amenities or adjacency to a metropolis. Our concept of persistence attempts to answer the question, "why are you still out there?" when most of society has given up on deep rural populations. We offer a sharp distinction between community persistence and the much-discussed concept of community sustainability. Moreover, our theory incorporates place-based sociological, economic and political factors associated with community persistence. In particular, our integrated theory suggests that persistent communities develop dense social networks, high human capital and deliberative civic engagement so that these towns stood out from the crowded field of contenders for sub-regional prominence.

Article

PDF

“Why Are You Still Out There?” Persistence among Deep Rural Communities in the Northern Plains
Meredith Redlin, Gary Aguiar, George Langelett, and Gerald Warmann