Rural Conservatism or Anarchism? The Pro-state, Stateless, and Anti-state Positions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Popular discourse today so weds rurality and conservatism together in the United States that one does not seem quite at home without the other. But what is it really about the rural that beckons slapjack labels of conservatism? Scholars and practitioners, only a handful of them rural sociologists, have suggested a variety of explanations: antigovernmentalism, religion, lack of education, manual labor, poverty, primitivism, and a culture of poverty, among others. Each of these approaches, though, misses a sustained agent of rural dispossession and depopulation: the state. This article theorizes rural politics through pro-state, stateless, and anti-state positions. I bridge literature that documents the state as an agent of industrialization, extraction, exploitation, consolidation, and corporatization in rural America and literature on politics and the rural. In the process of my review, I suggest anarchism can help explain the significance and potential of the stateless and anti-state positions in rural politics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-748
Number of pages32
JournalRural Sociology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the Rural Sociological Society

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Rural Conservatism or Anarchism? The Pro-state, Stateless, and Anti-state Positions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this