Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, 2009
44 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2009
Date Written: 2009
This paper is the last in a six-part series addressing rural discrimination across a broad spectrum of issues. Written in connection with, and presented at, the Law, Poverty, and Economic Inequality Conference, this final article offers a limited initial foray into examining ruralism on a global stage, set in the specific context of rural poverty.
Developing solutions to rural poverty is particularly challenging for two primary reasons: the lack of homogeneity across rural areas and discrimination against rural areas. In developing policies and programs to combat rural poverty, the temptation is to strive for an overarching plan-one plan applied consistently across all rural areas. However, rural poverty lacks those unifying characteristics that would permit the application of a single program on a worldwide basis, or in the case of the United States, even on a nationwide basis. The lack of homogeneity across rural areas guarantees that a one-size-fits-all approach to rural poverty will necessarily fail. Accordingly, lawmakers and policymakers must look more specifically at the geographical areas to be served by rural poverty policies and programs to ensure that such policies and programs are not based on inaccurate or inadequate foundations and assumptions. To lawmakers and policymakers, who tend to seek generalities and commonality in developing laws, policies, and programs, a geography-specific approach to rural poverty sounds both counterintuitive and unfair. Geography-specific approaches, by definition, do not have general applicability but instead turn on location. Although lawmakers regularly tuck geography-specific provisions into bills, the notion of granting benefits to some places and not to others is often condemned as unfair favoritism.
In addition, in at least some instances, rural discrimination comes into play, whether intentional or inadvertent. The lack of unfettered resources means that government funding is always a matter of setting priorities, and rural poverty, even severe rural poverty, is not always seen as a priority. To be sure, governments have the power to abandon any attempts at ameliorating rural poverty. But to the extent that governments or other entities undertake to address rural poverty, their attempts will continue to fail until the realities of lack of rural homogeneity and rural discrimination are acknowledged and taken into account in creating programs and policies.
Keywords: discrimination, global, rural, ruralism, poverty
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