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dc.contributor.authorManthorne, Jason Michael
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation reinterprets the New Deal for agriculture, arguing that USDA New Dealers were primarily occupied with revitalizing rural life rather than with simply raising farmers’ income. More than anything, agrarian New Dealers thought that a thriving rural life would come from modernizing rural cultures. In the 1910s and 1920s, rural sociology emerged to critique the prevailing orthodoxy of “productionism,” the idea that greater agricultural efficiency was the singular solution to the “farm problem.” Rural sociologists subverted productionism and argued that the problems of rural life were largely social and cultural. Factory farms would hollow out rural communities when strong and well-populated communities were what rural people needed most. Agrarian New Dealers came out of this earlier tradition, a fact reflected in their interest in rural life and their commitment to a style of participatory democracy that harkened back to the rural communities of the nineteenth century. USDA New Dealers developed two distinct sets of programs, one for America’s “cultures of commerce” and another for its “cultures of poverty.” In the cultures of commerce—those places where farmers produced almost exclusively for the market—these experts wanted to rationalize and not simply reduce agricultural production so that most farm families could remain in agriculture. But they also wanted to rein in the cultural excesses that they believed led to soil mining and overproduction. The New Dealers’ programs for the “cultures of poverty” were more problematic. For the most part, rather than attacking the causes of poverty in places like Appalachia and the Cotton South, the USDA treated poverty as a cultural malaise. This explains what historians have missed about the Resettlement Administration and the Farm Security Administration. These were not agencies, as has been so commonly assumed, dedicated to giving land to the landless. These were “rehabilitation” agencies dedicated to alleviating the alleged cultural pathologies that perpetuated poverty. As the factory farm became dominant after World War II, the kind of rural life that USDA New Dealers tried to foster disappeared. Even today, we have hollowed out rural communities, pervasive rural poverty, and an exploited class of rural proletarians—all of the things that agrarian New Dealers warned were poisonous to a healthy rural life and a sound agriculture.
dc.subjectRural Sociology
dc.subjectSocial Science
dc.subjectNew Deal
dc.subjectAgricultural Adjustment Administration
dc.subjectBureau of Agricultural Economics
dc.subjectResettlement Administration
dc.subjectFarm Security Administration
dc.subjectRural Poverty
dc.subjectArthur Raper.
dc.titleAs you sow
dc.title.alternativeculture, agriculture, and the New Deal
dc.description.advisorJames C. Cobb
dc.description.committeeJames C. Cobb
dc.description.committeeMelissa Walker
dc.description.committeeShane Hamilton
dc.description.committeeTimothy Cleaveland
dc.description.committeeKathleen Clark

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