The field of Rural Sociology is a sub-field of sociology, the study of human societies and social groups. Rural sociologists focus on the study of social life in rural and non-metropolitan areas domestically and internationally. They continue to develop theory and knowledge and produce information relevant to public policy and local development. Rural Sociology research focuses on environmental well-being, sustainable development of natural resources, social and community quality of life, and diffusion and impacts of technologies.
Sources: description of graduate rural sociology at The Ohio State University
Great example of how to engage with the target group of your study by sporadic conversations. The original source is an article on Trump victory and the reality of rural areas in US. In it, the political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Kathy Cramer speakes about his last book The Politics of Resentment, where she traces the rise of conservative Governor Scott Walker and the political evolution of Wisconsin. What Cramer says she found is that a strong sense of rural identity in the communities she visited has become a key driver of political motivation in Wisconsin. And over time, that sense of rural identity has come to be largely defined as an us vs. them mentality, with the them being people who live in cities.
Here I paste the most relevant parts regarding the methodology applied:
…what I did was to sample a broad array of communities in Wisconsin. And I asked people who lived there, “Where in this community do people go to hang out with one another?”
What’s important to understand is that these were not one-on-one interviews, these were not focus groups of people I assembled. These were groups of people who, for the most part, meet with each other every day, and they’ve been doing so for years. So I was inviting myself into their existing relationships in the places they already meet. I think that’s part of the reason why I was able to get the local texture. It wasn’t like trying to invite them on to the university campus and then trying to glean what I could out of them. Obviously the conversation changed a bit because I was there and asking questions. But these were groups of folks who were really used to talking with one another about politics.
This group was all men, older, some on their way to work and some retirees—so kind of the Trump demographic. I said to them, “What do you hope that Trump changes? Like, five years from now, what differences do you expect to see?” And initially their response was well, nothing. Nothing that presidents do ever affects us here in this place.