Morality, Identity, and Mental Health in Rural Ghettos

  • Linda M. Burton
  • Raymond Garrett-Peters
  • John Major Eason
Chapter
Part of the Social Disparities in Health and Health Care book series (SDHHC, volume 1)

Abstract

When we think about the impact of place on poor mental health outcomes our thoughts are often anchored in images of how urban ghettos’ influence the prevalence of problem behaviors and violence among individuals and families who reside within them. Within the last decade, however, social scientists have increasingly turned their attention to the emergence of rural ghettos and the concomitant rise of mental health problems in these environments. Rural ghettos are residentially segregated places that have high concentrations of disadvantage and contextual stigma. They exist within small, geographically isolated towns and their adjacent pastoral communities. Ghettos take different forms including dilapidated tracts of housing, subsidized housing projects, and run-down trailer parks on the outskirts of town. They are also parts of larger ecologies of local residents who reside in protected and affluent spaces on their geographic peripheries.

In this chapter, we explore the impact of place on mental health by examining the role of the rural ghetto in shaping the well-being of its residents and those who live in close proximity. We discuss the role of two dimensions of place that are endemic to understanding the influences of rural ghettos on mental health – location as morality and as identity. We argue that emerging ghettoized sections of rural communities have presented challenges to residents’ perceptions, beliefs, and practices regarding their “rural moral codes” and their “rural place identities.” These challenges are products of changing local landscapes (e.g., the disruption of routine social relations through diminished work opportunities) and stigmatizations as “undesirable living spaces” that compromise the mental health of those who reside within a rural ghetto as well as those who live outside of a ghettos’ borders.

Keywords

Migration Cage Migraine Coherence Cocaine 

Notes

Acknowledgment

Support for this research was provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (PO1-HD-39667), the National Science Foundation (SES-07-03968), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda M. Burton
    • 1
  • Raymond Garrett-Peters
  • John Major Eason
  1. 1.Department of SociologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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