Rural Sociology as the name itself indicates is that branch of Sociology that studies the society of the villages or Rural Society. This branch of sociology studies the social interaction, institutions and activities and social changes that take place in the rural society. It is a systematic study of the rural society. The interactions and the changes that are seen in the rural aspect of the society are studied under this branch. This is what Dr. Desai has said:
“Rural Sociology is the science of the law of development of Rural Society.”
Difficult to separate Urban and Rural Society: although Rural Sociology studies the rural life and the development in rural Society, but it is difficult to separate completely the urban society and the Rural Society, but it is difficult to separate completely the urban society and the Rural Society. People living in Rural Society may be progressive and urban in outlook while people living in cities may have complete rural or village outlook. Anderson has said:
“Whatever may be pleasant for ruralism, urbanism seems to be a border-crossing phenomenon. Every modern community is urban to a degree. One can study a city and limit the research to the municipal area, but urbanism itself is not so confined. One can study the rural community using the city as a background for rural urban comparison.” But a line cannot be drawn between the urban and the rural.”
Thus Rural Sociology does not study the Rural Society. Form a geographical point of view, but it studies the Rural Society from a particular angle or point of view. There are certain standards of rural and urban society, and Rural Sociology studies the rural social life and the standards and the factors that influence the social structure of the Rural Society.
Definition of Rural Sociology: different sociologists have defined rural sociology in different ways. Given below are a few definitions of this branch of sociology:
1) Rural Sociology as defined by Sanderson:
Rural Sociology is the sociology of rural life in the rural environment.”
2) Rural sociology as defined by A.R. Desai:
Rural Sociology is the science of Rural Society in general can aid us in discovering the special laws governing a particular society. Rural Sociology is the science of the laws of the development of Rural Society.
3) T.L. Smith has defined the Rural Sociology in the following words:
Some investigators study social phenomena that are present only in or largely confined to the rural environment, to persons engaged in agricultural occupation. Such sociological facts and principles as one derived from the study of the rural social relationship may be referred to as Rural Sociology.
4) F. Stuart Chapin has defined Rural Sociology as given below.
“The sociology of rural life is a study of the rural population rural social oragainisation, and the social process comparative, in Rural Society.”
5) Rural Sociology as defined by Lowry Nelson:
“The subject matter of Rural Sociology is descriptive unless of course of various kind as they exist in rural environment.”
6) Bertrand has defined Rural Sociology as given below:
“In its broadest definition, Rural Sociology is the study of human relationship in rural environment.
Rural Sociology is therefore the study of rural environment and social facts and social interactions that are to be found in Rural Society. It is the study of the country’s rural population in the mass. It is concerned to answer the large and important questions confronting the country at large as they affect to that population.
As a scientific study, it studies the social organisation, structure and set up. It provides us that knowledge about the rural social phenomena which can help us in making contribution to the development.
Origin of Rural Sociology:
Rural Sociology, comparatively speaking is a new branch of sociology which saw its origin in United States of America around 1820. Within the century a good deal of literature had been produced about this branch of knowledge and main contributors to the development of Rural Sociology are Charles Anderson of the Chicago university, Butter fields of the Michigan University, Ernest Burnham of the Michigan state College, John Morris Gillian of the North Dermot University, Marking H. Giddings of the Columbia University and Thomas Nixon Carver of the Harvard University.
It was President Roosevelt who through the appointment of ‘country Life Commission’ gave a good encouragement and fillip to the development of the Rural Sociology in the 20th century. The report of this Commission was aimed at encouraging the studies of the Rural Society and can rightly be called ‘Magna Carta of the Rural Sociology.’
In 1917, the department of Rural Sociology was set up by the American Sociological Society and in 1919; ‘A Rural Sociology Department’ was established under the aegis of the ‘Bureau of Agriculture Economics’. Dr.C.J. Golpin headed the department and the Bureau. Later on, its name changed to ‘Rural Population and Rural Life.’ The Social Science Research Council not only encourages but helps the research of study of the Rural Sociology.
In 1930, due to depression this branch of sociology got a good deal of fillip and encouragement. In 1936, a quarterly (magazine) called. Rural Sociology was published in 1938 Rural Sociological Society was established. Then came the Second World War which brought a good deal of devastation and destruction.
This destruction had to be mending and reconstructed. This reconstruction work, brought further encouragement of ‘Rural Sociology ‘America under its ‘point 4’ programme sent rural sociologists to work in under-developed countries and science then Rural Sociology has been growing and gaining ground every day.
Origin of Rural Sociology in India:
India is basically a country of villages. of the 68.3 crore people who constituted the 1981 population, about 80 percent live in villages and 10.92 crores or 20 percent in cities and towns. If this country has to develop, a good deal of progress is to be made in the villages. Real progress of the country lies in rural reconstruction. This was realised even when India was slave but after independence, the study of the Rural Social Structure and Rural Reconstruction become imperative in the country.
Since 1947 a good deal of attention is being paid, to the development of rural society of this country. Planning Commission has introduced several projects for it. Community development Project, National Extension Services, Co-operative Movement, Rural Institutes and such other programmes have contributed a lot to the development of Rural Sociology in India. A good deal of literature has been published but to be very frank, the development of Rural Sociology in India is yet to attain a scientific level and proceed on scientific lines, the progress is going, and the day is not far off when it shall have attained proper scientific form in this country.