If you live in a rural area and commit a crime, your social standing plays a huge role in your ability to recover. Drawing on research from Central and Eastern Washington, this talk explores how the social dynamics in rural communities play an outsized role in how a person is treated after an entanglement with the law.
Particularly in small towns, where word can travel fast of an arrest, judgement and stigma can undermine social relations and create barriers to securing work and housing. Yet those same dynamics can also give some people a pass—your local reputation can make it easier for some to regain their standing in the community. Join professor Jennifer Sherman as she asks questions including: Why do we define criminality in the ways we do? And are there more effective ways to keep our communities safe and support vulnerable people?
Jennifer Sherman (she/her) is professor of sociology at Washington State University, and currently serves as president of the Rural Sociological Society. Her qualitative research focuses on poverty and inequality, mainly in the rural Northwest. She is the author of two books, 2009’s Those Who Work, Those Who Don’t: Poverty, Morality, and Family in Rural America, and 2021’s Dividing Paradise: Rural Inequality and the Diminishing American Dream (2021). She also co-edited the 2017 volume, Rural Poverty in the United States.
Sherman lives in Moscow, Idaho.
This talk is presented in partnership with The Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, which educates citizens across the state about democratic institutions and public affairs, and is based at Washington State University. For more information, visit The Foley Institute’s website.