Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"Rural" Is A Slippery Category. (So Is "Urban").

When I fly home to visit my parents, who live in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, and my dad picks me up at the airport, he often tells me of the roundabout way he chose to drive to avoid the major traffic snarls. He calls it "driving through the country," although the urbanized and suburbanized communities, edge cities, and satellite towns he passes hardly fit notions of pastoral farmland or rugged back country.

What is rural? It seems to be whatever we define as or mean by "rural." It seems more symbol than space. And likewise with "urban." Even the new logistical terms like "micropolitan" tend to get fuzzy, thin, and imprecise as they come up against local meanings.

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