Land and Community
Crisis in Canada's Countryside
Sim, R. Alex
Publisher: University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada
Year Published: 1988
Pages: 230pp Price: $15.00 ISBN: ISBN 0-88955-128-6
Library of Congress Number: HT421.S55 1988 Dewey: 307.7'2'0971
Resource Type: Book
Cx Number: CX4500
Sim's thesis is that rural society is overlooked due to urban dependence upon "great associations," economies of scale, and other socio-cultural institutions of unmanageable size.
Abstract: Rural sociologist and adult educator R. Alex Sim argues that we should go back to the land, again, and discover in rural society values and social organization necessary to surviving an increasingly urban future.
Sim's thesis is that rural society is overlooked due to urban dependence upon "great associations," economies of scale, and other socio-cultural institutions of unmanageable size. In a book intended for rural and, secondarily, urban lay readerships, Sim sketches where rural Canada has been sacrificed to the cult of bigness in agriculture, government, culture, business, social and religious practices.
Present among the one-third of Canadians living in town (communities under 10,000 pop.) and country is a new populism, and the cradle of economic co-ops, a community ethic and environmental holism. Sim writes:
"Rural people may not be ready to challenge head on present trends and arrangements, but there is evidence of discontent and a striving toward action -- small beginnings, social innovations that are, in effect, pioneer pathways that others may be encouraged to follow.... A widespread cynicism toward political leadership and government policies may stimulate rural people to look to themselves for direction, rather than distant authorities."
Sim calls for decentralization, power-sharing with rural communities, and an appreciation of the new, less agriculturally dependent rural Canada on its own terms. The despoliation and depopulation of the countryside may be stemmed if social and economic planning is especially adapted to the rural, and if the social and cultural bounty of rural people is harvested. Sim closes by arguing for popular participation in decision-making structures, in a book as lyrical and reflective as it is concerned with trends and policy histories. Other books on rural Canada Sim recommends include Gerald Gold's St. Pascal: Changing Leadership and Social Change in a Quebec Community, and Ralph Mathews' There's No Better Place Than Here: Social Change in Three Newfoundland Villages.
[Abstract by Ulli Diemer]
Table of Contents
I. A Countryside Transformed
When You Look, What Do You See?
The Battered Rural Community
Rurality Is Not the Opposite of Urbanity
Land and Community: The Case of Farming
The Parable of the Roses
II. The Culture of the New Countryside
A Search for Identity
Rural Culture Remembered
Technology and the Good Life
Rural Life - East and West
Culture and Community
Etiquette in the New Neighbourhood
III. The Ways and Means of Community Life
The Importance of Groups
Vertical and Horizontal Organizations
The Case of Justice
The Case of Education
The Case of Health
The Case of Welfare
The Case of Religion
IV. Towards Community Regeneration
Strategies for the New Community
The Political Option
The Economic Option
The Food and Land Option
The Planning Option
The Culture Option
Epilogue: Waiting for a Messiah