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Rural Social Work in the 21st Century

Serving Individuals, Families, and Communities in the Countryside

Second Edition

Michael Daley

Publication Date - 20 March 2020

ISBN: 9780190937676

384 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

The only comprehensive treatment of rural social work on the market


Despite current population movement towards urban areas, rural people remain a significant yet under-served population. These communities share a rich and distinctive culture, but also face specific problems including higher rates of poverty, increased rates of obesity, and decreased access to health coverage and social services. Rural Social Work in the 21st Century, Second Edition provides a comprehensive overview of the knowledge, skills, values, ethics, and issues central to the practice of social work in small towns and rural communities.

The updated second edition features a new chapter on social, economic, and environmental justice. An expanded history chapter presents new information on the use of poor farms to serve dependent rural people in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Later chapters discuss rural social services, a model for rural social work practice, and ethical practice. The final chapters focus on the practice of rural social work and challenges for the future.

New to this Edition

  • New chapter discusses social, economic, and environmental justice along with advocacy to improve conditions
  • Services chapter is expanded to include coverage of veterans and history chapter is expanded to include coverage of poor farms
  • Ethics chapter reflects the 2017 revisions to the NASW Code of Ethics
  • Citations and source material updated throughout


  • The most comprehensive and up-to-date introduction to rural social work on the market.
  • Informal, direct, and engaging language helps keep students interested and introduces them to rural expressions
  • Supported by instructor materials

About the Author(s)

Michael R. Daley, PhD, LMSW-AP, ACSW, Chair & Professor, Department of Social Work Texas A&M University-Central Texas; Editor-in Chief, Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work. He is a past president of both the National Rural Social Work Caucus and the Association of Social Work Baccalaureate Program Directors (BPD).


"The book is an inspiring reflective, strength-based and contemporary examination of social work practice with people living in rural communities and with rural lifestyles. It conveys and captures the essential intersectionality of diversity, knowledge, values and skills for working with this population. Moreover, it enhances the consciousness of readers in understanding the true character of rural people and their lifestyles." -- Freddie L. Avant, Stephen F. Austin State University

"Dr. Daley has scored a hat trick. His Rural Social Work expands the knowledge base, offers useful practice tips, and paints invaluable pictures of rural life and culture. But he had me when he quoted Hazel Dickens!" -- Sam Hickman, NASW West Virginia

"Once again, Michael offers a comprehensive overview of rural social work practice within the United States. This edition adds a much needed chapter on social, economic, and environmental justice given the often disproportionate injustices experienced within rural communities. A must read for any social work practitioner working in, researching about, or teaching on content related to rural communities." -- Karen Rice, Millersville University

Table of Contents

    1. Rural Communities and Social Work: An Introduction
    Why Rural Social Work?
    What Is Rural?
    Is Rurality Confined to Small Towns and Communities?
    What Is Unique About Rural Social Work?
    Rewards and Challenges of Rural Social Work
    2. Rural Culture and Behavior
    Rural Values
    Change in the 21st Century
    3. Diversity in Rural Communities
    Rural Diversity
    African Americans
    Native Americans
    Sexual Orientation: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer
    Senior Citizens
    4. Rural Social Welfare Policy
    Social Welfare Policy
    Social Policy and Rural People
    Effects of Social Policy on Rural Communities
    Identifying and Addressing Disparity in Rural Policy
    5. Social Welfare Services in Rural Communities
    Mental Health and Substance Abuse
    Rural Health Care Services
    Child Welfare
    Domestic Violence
    Services for Veterans
    Services for Immigrants
    6. History and Development of Rural Social Work
    Origins of the Rural Myth
    Industrialization and the Rise of Social Work
    Serving the Dependent in Smaller Towns and Rural Areas in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries
    Country Lifers and the Early Concerns About Rural Communities: 1900-1920
    The Growth of Rural Social Work Practice and the Great Depression: The 1920s and 1930s
    Retreat from Rural Assistance: The 1940s and 1950s
    The Renaissance of Rural Social Work: The 1960s and 1970s
    Continued Growth: The 1980s and 1990s
    The 21st Century
    Reconnecting with the Past: Rural Social Work Then and Now
    7. A Model for Rural Social Work
    Rurality and the Practice of Social Work in Small Communities
    Rural Social Work: Is It Different from Urban Practice?
    Generalist Social Work Versus Community-Based Practice
    Rural Strengths and Assets
    Rural Relationships and Social Work Practice
    A Model for Rural Social Work
    Down-Home Model of Social Work
    Applying the Down-Home Model
    Advanced Rural Practice
    8. Ethical Rural Practice
    The Rural Fishbowl as a Context for Ethical Practice
    Social Work Ethics and Ethical Decision-Making
    Dual Relationships
    Competency and Adequacy of Practice
    Personal and Professional Identity
    Relationships with Colleagues
    Ethical Rural Practice
    9. Rural Social Work Practice
    The Person-in-Environment Perspective
    The Strengths Perspective
    Generalist Practice and Social Systems
    Characteristics of Rural Social Workers
    10. Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice for Rural Communities
    Social Justice and Rural Communities
    Economic Justice for Rural Areas
    Environmental Justice for Rural Communities
    What to Do? Addressing Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice for Rural Communities
    11. Challenges for the Future
    Rural Communities: Perception, Reality, and Demands of the 21st Century
    Rural People and Change for the 21st Century
    Social Work in Rural Practice

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