Mar 29, 2010

Christian Militia members arrested in Michigan

While looking though the cover stories on one of my favorite news sites today, I came a cross a particularly interesting headline: "Militia members in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana charged with police-killing plot". Clicking on the headline presented me with information detailing Christian-militia's plan to kill a law enforcement official and then to attack again at the funerals of any police officers they may have killed. The article was particularly interesting due to due to its location.
While one might expect crime like this to come out of a large city like Detroit, the scene where this group was located is described as being "rural, wooded property". Even more interesting to me is that though the article describes this property as being rural, it states that there were neighbors close by (who were not part of the militia), and that even though the individuals who are facing charges were aware that there were people around them who could observe their behavior, they made no effort to disguise that they were part of a militia group. A neighbor stated that most every one knew that they were involved with what they were, and the individuals even ran a website whose mission statement proclaims that they are willing to fight in the name of Jesus. It's interesting t me, that while they weren't too far away from a city, if there were people who were openly declaring to be militia that neighbors would neglect alert the authorities sooner than they had. The social implications here all point towards the militia group as being dominant in the area they were in, perhaps scaring their neighbors into submission, but it's still intriguing to me that no one would have placed a phone call or reported the activity when they went to the city to buy supplies.
Even more interesting, perhaps, is the fact that two grown children were involved in this group, one of whom is still avoiding arrest. One has to wonder why these grown individuals, children of the two who run the group, would continue to believe in the group, particularly in the presence of neighbors who could have provided some external opinions. They were probably socialized into these beliefs, but one has to wonder how? The obvious paradigm would be conflict theory; that the parents and friends of the parents in this situation set up a social system to bear over the children and ensure that their social beliefs mirrored that of their own, but symbolic interactionism is also worth looking into. Do you suppose it's possible that while to the vast majority the performance of these individuals would be considered "botched" in the situation they were living in had they opted to act in any other way they would have been considered to have given bad performances and would the lose standing with he group and so were forced in a way to carry these values into adult hood? I'm also interested in the one son who ran away; on the surface it certainly seems like he's just avoiding getting into trouble (which is almost undoubtedly a motive), but is it possible that he's finally found a way to escape the oppressive environment, or have a chance to give a performance he believes is good?

The whole article can be found here:

Mar 11, 2010

Rurality blogging

A Google search for "rural" and "blogs" yields over fifteen million results. Of course, the vast majority of these links are dead ends when looking specifically for blogs focused on rural life, but spending just a few minutes weeding through the first two pages presented several relevant sites. Following links from within those blogs presented even more results. All in all, there are a plethora of blogs dedicated to discussing personal experiences as well as political, social, and economic issues in rural areas.
The presence of these blogs demonstrates that there is a substantial niche for those interested in the issues of rurality. Not only does this niche exist, but the Internet has provided a place where individuals and groups from all over the country, and even the world, can gather to expose these issues to a large audience. Blogs in particular ensure that rural issues are not relegated only to those concerned individuals living in rural areas or those studying sociology at academic institutions because of their generally accessible writing style and personal feel.
Granted, unless one is specifically looking for these blogs, the chances of stumbling upon them are somewhat limited. However, it is more likely that someone will find out about rural issues by bumbling around the Internet than he or she would by perusing scholarly literature, simply because most individuals do not casually browse scholarly articles.
Increased exposure to rurality issues could lead to increased concern and ultimately increased focus on solving these issues. In terms of the Symbolic Interactionism paradigm, rural issues have moved from small, local theatres to the big stage of blogging on the Internet. The authors of these blogs play a particular role when creating new entries, trying to convey a specific rural issue in a way that will engage their audience. Their primary audience is their avid readers, those dedicated to rural issues. But then they also reach that secondary audience, those that stumble upon the blogs by chance. It is that growth in numbers of concerned individuals that can make a difference in problems facing rural areas.

Various blogs about rurality:
Sustain Rural Alaska,
Anchorage Daily News, The Village (A Rural Blog),
Blog for Rural America,
Rural Matters,
The Rural Blog,
Rurality Bytes,
Legal Ruralism,
The Rural Populist,

Mar 7, 2010

Rural Chile still functioning

While it is important to recognize the challenges that face Concepción after the earthquake that hit Chile, it is also important to not overlook the rural areas that were destroyed by the quake and the subsequent tsunamis. Even before this natural disaster, rural villages such as Tubul and Tirúa have been neglected by the Chilean government, receiving little in governmental aid. Now, the residents of these struggling areas must pull together to solve their problems such as the lack of food, drinking water, and fuel, because it is not likely that these isolated areas will be receiving outside help any time soon.

There are two different sociological paradigms to examine the dire situation in rural Chile. While it would be easy to discuss from the control-conflict perspective the struggle between urban and rural communities over sparse resources, the more interesting approach would be to use the structural functionalist paradigm to examine how these communities are making life work.

As mentioned, in these rural areas, the residents are pulling together to help each other. They are clearing the rubble from the streets together, building shelters together, and catching food to share with their neighbors. While they are essentially abandoned by the government, they are still functioning by working together. With everyone playing their part as a cog making the machine operate, they can continue to live and function.

Read the New York Times article about Tubul at