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David L. Brown

My scholarship is motivated by an interest in explaining the determinants of spatial inequality in more developed nations. In particular, I am interested in how processes of uneven national development shape opportunity structures and life chances of people living in various types of areas. Space and locality are organizing principles in my work, and I view them as contingent social structures which effect social behavior, modifying overall social relationships. My work is focused in the U.S., the U.K., and in Central and Eastern Europe.

Research Focus

My projects all consider some aspect or another of spatial inequality. My current projects include: (a) the political economy of rural and regional development in the U.S. and in ex-socialist eastern Europe, (b) how social mobilities are reshaping the urban-rural periphery,(c) commuting behavior among rural in-migrants in England and the U.S.,(d) the process through which amenity-based areas become destinations for older in-migrants and maintain that status over time, and (e) the social and economic implications of natural population decrease including the lived experience of residents of such areas and the association between natural population decrease and economic activity over time.

Outreach and Extension Focus

I am co-director of the Cornell Community and Regional Development Institute. This applied research/extension institute seeks to produce and disseminate evidence-based information on regional development to enhance the capacity of local leaders to plan for and manage social, institutional, and economic change in local communities in upstate New York and in the U.S. more generally.

Teaching Focus

My teaching focuses on social demography and community sociology. Similar to my research program, my teaching considers these two areas separately, but is also concerned with the intersection of demographic processes and local social organization. I teach at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. In the demographic realm,I teach the introduction to social demography as well as an advanced undergraduate/graduate course on internal and international migration. In community sociology, I teach a course focused on rural areas in metropolitan societies, and a graduate seminar on environment and community. A new teaching challenge will be to conduct the senior capstone course for Development Sociology. I hope to make this an especially engaging experience where students can synthesize what they have learned and move to the next stage of their lives.

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How Despair Helped Drive Trump to Victory

Article | Nov 16, 2017

From the Rust Belt to Rural America, Economic and Social Distress Helped Shape the 2016 US Presidential Election Outcome