Maida - Chapter 07 | eBooks | Non-Fiction

Maida - Chapter 07

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Globalization, Local Practice, and Sustainability in the High Plains Region of the United States

While researchers have examined economic and environmental factors affecting agricultural sustainability in the High Plains region of the United States, they have paid relatively less attention to sociocultural factors intrinsically linked to agricultural decision-making and the future of communities. Anthropologists can contribute to public policy decisions through a holistic perspective that takes into account both local practice, particularly the social relations in which agricultural practices are embedded, and an understanding of broader contexts (see Okongwu & Mencher 2000). This is not to deny the reality of local response, whether it entails resisting larger forces or embracing them. However, a broader perspective is needed to evaluate change over time. Regional, national, and international processes all shape the future of local communities.

Discussions of sustainability and communities of place have also sometimes treated farming communities as if they were socially and culturally homogeneous. However, this essay will argue that rural communities are not synonymous with farm families (see Scott et al. 2000) and in fact may be characterized by increasing diversity in terms of occupation, type of agricultural enterprise, and ethnicity (Benson 2001). The idea of local practice begs the question of exactly who is participating in regional culture; to what extent, if any, a collective identity exists; and how state and national policies shape local practice, as well as being shaped by it. The effects of globalization profoundly affect rural communities in the United States, as elsewhere, ranging from shifts in traditional markets to fluctuating energy prices and international migration. Highly mobile capital attracts equally mobile, and ephemeral, human populations. What changes have taken place in Kansas's agriculture during the last few decades?

Globalization, Local Practice, and Sustainability in the High Plains Region of the United StatesJanet E. BensonWhile researchers have examined economic and environmental factors affecting agricultural sustainability in the High Plains region of the
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