Towards a rural sociological imagination: ethnography and schooling in mobile modernity
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AbstractIn 1959, C. Wright Mills coined the phrase the sociological imagination to offer a critical assessment of a discipline he saw descending into a technical or abstract empiricist practice that he feared would ultimately deepen human alienation and oppression. Mills positioned the sociologist as a careful, critical scholar working in the space between biography and history. In this paper, I offer a meta-ethnographic analysis of several recent critical ethnographies in the rural sociology of education using my own experience as a rural education ethnographer to frame the analysis. I argue that critical ethnographic work is crucial to developing educational analysis that is attuned to the nuances of place and the kind of metrocentric analysis that effectively traps rural places in larger structural educational reform narratives.