Rural Social Work in the 21st Century
Michael R. Daley
Lyceum Books, Chicago, IL, 2015
309 pages (paperback), $49.95, ISBN 978-1-935871-61-3
Reviewed by Joy St. Pierre
Michael R. Daley wrote the book Rural Social Work in the 21st Century as a comprehensive beginning book on rural social work in North America. He explained that, although there are many resources on rural social work, they are generally a collection of articles and other readings. He wrote this book to provide an overview from a variety of perspectives for the generalist practitioner. He used vernacular rather than academic language to provide the reader with a sense of rural culture.
The book begins by defining what is rural from three different perspectives: physical geography, population density, and sociocultural characteristics. The last is the author's preferred perspective because it provides an understanding of rural people and problems outside of what might typically be identified as a rural area.
Chapters 2 and 3 further define rural culture and behavior while looking at the diversity within rural communities, including vulnerable minorities. Chapters 4 and 5 look at the impact of social welfare policy and services upon rural populations. This is important because such policies are often made in urban settings and can have unintended consequences for rural populations. Chapter 6 reviews the history and development of rural social work. It is noteworthy that the first major initiative in rural social work came in the 1920s and 1930s and then retreated until the 1980s, continuing to the present day. Chapters 7 and 8 explore a universal model for rural social work and the often difficult line to walk for ethical social work practice in rural settings. Chapter 9 focuses on some themes that are woven throughout each chapter: a strengths-based approach, rurality...