chapter  1
Farm and Community Change: A Brief Introduction to the Regional Studies
WithLouis E. Swanson
Pages 14

The prevailing hypothesis in the farm and community change literature has been that a rural community's well-being is a function of its farming hinterland. The converse of this assumption, that nonfarm socioeconomic factors associated with community rural well-being might influence farm well-being, has only recently received wide-spread attention. Before World War II there is considerable evidence that this unicausal assumption was not far from reality. Merrington argues that the preindustrial "agrarian economy established the historical limits of town development," for all types of preindustrial modes of production. The transformation to a dependency upon commercial agricultural trade introduced in some cases new and in all cases greater class divisions than had characterized the noncommercial period. There are numerous studies that examine the supposed impact of farm change on trade centers. Most of these studies propose that as farm structure becomes more concentrated rural communities will experience a decline in their economic and social well-being.