Notes on the meaning and scope of Rural Sociology

The nomenclature ‘Rural Sociology’ indicates that it is the scientific study of Rural Society. Broadly speaking, it deals with the systematic study of Rural Society, its institutions, activities interactions, social change etc. It not only deals with the social relationship of man in rural environment but also takes urban surroundings into considerations for a comparative study. So Rural Sociology primarily deals with the description and analysis of groups of various kinds as they exist in rural environment.

Different sociologists have defined Rural Sociology in different ways. The tone of these different thinkers varies but the whole essence is same.

According to A.R. Desai, “The prime objective of Rural Sociology should be to make a systematic, scientific and comprehensive study of the rural social organisation, of its structure function and objective tendencies of development and on the basis of such a study to discover the laws of is development. Since every science social or natural, has for its aim the discovery of the hither to hidden laws of development of a domain of nature or society, the basic task of Rural Sociology, they unanimously declare, is to discover the law of development of Rural Society.”

T.L. Smith has defined Rural Sociology as some investigators study social phenomena that are present only in or largely confined to the rural environment, to persons engages in agricultural occupation. Such sociological aspects and principles as one derived from the study of rural social relationship may be referred to as Rural Sociology.

According to F. Stuart Chapin Rural Sociology is “the sociology of rural life, a study of rural population, rural social organisation and the social process.”

Bertrand has defined Rural Sociology. In the broadest definition Rural Sociology is the study of human relationship in rural environment.

From the above definitions, it is revealed that Rural Sociology deals with the study of rural environment, rural social facts and interactions, rural populations, rural social organisation, rural social processes etc. It studies the whole structure and functions of rural social organisation and institutions.

It is a holistic study of rural social setting. It provides us valuable knowledge about the rural social phenomena and social problems which helps us in understanding Rural Society and making prescription for its all round progress and prosperity.

Scope of Rural Sociology:

Rural Sociology is comparatively a new branch of Sociology which is of recent origin. It is a separate science having its own subject matter and method of study. The scope or Rural Sociology refers to what it studies. To draw attention on the scope, N.L. Sims says, “The field of Rural Sociology is the study of association among people living by or immediately dependent upon agriculture. Open country and village groupings and groups behavior are its concern.”

According to Lowry Nelson, “The scope of Rural Sociology is the description and analysis of progress of various groups as they exist in the rural environment. In the words of Bertrand and his associates: “In its broadest definition Rural Sociology is the study of human relationship in rural environment.” On account of the opinions given by Sims, Nelson and Bertrand, it is observed that the scope of Rural Sociology covers rural people, their livelihood and social relationship in rural environment.

It studies society from the rural standpoint. But its main aim is concentrated on rural lives. The subjects that are included within the scope are very comprehensive in nature and we can blindly say that its boundary is varying large. The scope of Rural Sociology may be clear from the analysis of the following subjects.

(1) Rural Society:

Rural Sociology, as is clear by the nomenclature, is the sociology of Rural Society. As sun is the centre of solar system, in Rural Sociology, Rural Society is the centre. Rural Sociology, basically studies Rural society, its nature and basic ingredients from the structural and functional standpoints. Its main aim is to study of rural social life. Rural social life covers the behavior patterns, web of relationship, social interactions, standard of living and socio-economic conditions of the rural people. The scope of Rural Sociology, therefore, expands where the boundary of Rural Society is expanded.

(2) Rural Population:

Rural population is the basic essence of Rural Sociology. It studies the nature, characteristics, size, density and distribution of rural population from different angles. Rural Sociology aims at the study of the factors of growth of population, its evil effects of Rural Society, rural –urban migration for the greater interest of the country at large.

(3) Rural Community:

Rural community is the oldest organisation of mankind. Rural Sociology, therefore, is mainly concerned with the divine origin, nature characteristics, social attributes and human ecology of rural community. It also studies the homogenous rigid and conservative nature of hither to existing customs, traditions, folkways, mores, norms, values and so on in rural community.

(4) Rural Social Organisation:

Social organisation is the most fundamental basis of every society as well as social life. The most important function of Rural Sociology, therefore, is to provide basic knowledge about rural social organisaation. Rural Social organisation covers the spiritual lives, religious activities sacred relationship and divine notion of rebirth, Karmaphala etc.

Of rural folk which deeply affect the entire rural social life. Rural sociology, thus, for the betterment of rural life, studies the future prospectus of rural social organisation and governing laws for its development.

(5) Rural Social Institution:

Rural social institutions as we mean, is recognised forms of procedure governing the relations between the rural people. Rural sociology, thus, studies the structure, characteristics and functions of rural social institutions. Rural social institutions include family, marriage, kinship, religion, caste and Rural Sociology studies the sociological importance of these institutions in the rural context.

(6) Rural Economy:

Rural economy is basically known as agricultural economy. Agriculture is the backbone of rural economic life. Rural people directly depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Rural Sociology therefore studies the factors responsible for the failure of agriculture and suggests various measures for the improvement of agriculture in rural areas.

Besides, the adoption of new agricultural technology among the farming centers, modernisation of old farming methods, creation of open markets and providing agricultural training to the farmers are the important areas of the study or Rural Society.

(7) Rural social Process:

Rural Sociology mainly studies the two process of rural social interaction, namely, conjunctive and disjunctive. Rural conjunctive process includes co-operation, accommodation and assimilation. Rural disjunctive process, on the other hand, includes competition and conflict. Thus, the nature, characteristics and social importance of these processes are to be properly studied by the scope of Rural Sociology.

(8) Rural Religion:

Rural Society is basically a religion oriented society. Religion is the soul of rural people and it is regarded as the chief essence of rural life. Religion, therefore, plays a vital role in Rural Society. Rural Sociology, in this context, and studies the concept and social importance of rural religion and its impact on Rural Society.

(9) Rural Culture:

Culture, as we mean, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, moral law, art, custom and any other capabilities acquired by man as a member of society. Rural culture is strictly based on rigid and conservative dogmas and it is very static in nature. It includes old customs, tradition, folkways, mores, norms, values and so on. Rural Sociology studies the complexities of rural culture, its different structural organisations, cultural patterns, cultural traits and cultural lag in the rural contexts.

(10) Rural Social Problems:

Rural Society is a hell of social evils. It is basically called a hot bed of rural social problems. Its major problems are poverty, unemployment, population growth, illiteracy, casteism, untouchabitlity and so on. Rural Sociology, therefore, studies the causes and evil effects of these problems and also suggests measures for their eradication for the greater interests of the country at large.

(11) Rural Social Control:

Social control as we mean, is the control of society over individual. In Rural Society, social control is in formal and rigid in nature. Rural Sociology significantly studies the informal means and agencies such as religions, customs, folkways, mores, norms etc, of social control. In Rural Society, the important primary groups like family and neighborhood play a vital role in social control.

(12) Rural Social Change:

Social change is meant only such alterations as occur in social organisation, that is, structure and functions of society, Rural Society, now-a-days, is on the way of social change. Due to the impact of money modernising forces, Rural Society is undergoing tremendous changes in the twentieth century. For a better account of the speed of social change in Rural Society, Rural Sociology undertakes necessary steps. Rural Sociology also studies the various factors responsible for social changes in a systematic way.

(13) Rural Urban Contrast:

The study of Rural Society shall not be completed unless the study of rural urban contrast is done in a proper and scientific manner. Both village and city, hypothetically, are the two contrasting modes of community life. Rural Sociology studies the rural-urban contrast on the basis of social, economic, religious and cultural point of view. Besides, Rural Sociology also draws attention on the comparative study of these two societies. As a result, the concept of Rural Society and social institutions can be clear by this contrasting analysis.

(14) Rural Planning and Reconstruction:

Rural planning and reconstruction are very much essential for under developed societies. In this context, the poor and backward condition of Indian Rural Society needs rural planning and reconstruction in a systematic and planned manner. Rural Society is full of social problems. For the eradication of these problems and for the betterment of rural life, the proper planning and reconstruction should be made by the state as well Central Government. A.R. Desai says, Rural Sociology studies all these subjects and provides proper guidelines in this direction.

It is evident from the above analysis that the scope or subject matter or Rural Sociology, no doubt is very vast. Though, it is the youngest and progressive science, yet it studies the various aspects of Rural Society as well as rural life to a great extent.