Measuring the Rural Continuum in Political Science

Zoe Nemerever, Melissa Rogers
2021 Political Analysis  
AbstractRecent accounts of American politics focus heavily on urban–rural gaps in political behavior. Rural politics research is growing but may be stymied by difficulties defining and measuring which Americans qualify as "rural." We discuss theoretical and empirical challenges to studying rurality. Much existing research has been inattentive to conceptualization and measurement of rural geography. We focus on improving estimation of different notions of rurality and provide a new dataset on
more » ... an–rural measurement of U.S. state legislative districts. We scrutinize construct validity and measurement in two studies of rural politics. First, we replicate Flavin and Franko (2020, Political Behavior, 845–864) to demonstrate empirical results may be sensitive to measurement of rural residents. Second, we use Mummolo and Nall's (2017, The Journal of Politics, 45–59) survey data to show rural self-identification is not well-captured with objective, place-based classifications, suggesting a rethinking of theoretical and empirical accounts of rural identity. We conclude with strategies for operationalizing rurality using readily available tools.
doi:10.1017/pan.2020.47 fatcat:3dy6sjqksjelvd5hcnitgvc2ta