In the early 1940s, the agricultural New Deal was broader and more democratic than those aspects of it that survived World War II. Carl C. Taylor, who led the sociological research unit in the USDA’s Bureau of Agricultural Economics, and other rural sociologists shared a two-handed commitment to democracy. They merged social science with local knowledge and integrated federal action with citizen participation. These activist principles were best exemplified in a Third New Deal program called county land-use planning, within which sociologists played two roles. First, they "delineated" the boundaries of rural neighborhoods and communities so that the best representation of citizens on the local planning committees was obtained. With local citizen-researchers, Taylor’s sociologists delineated eleven thousand rural neighborhoods and nearly two thousand communities in thirty-two states. Second, they evaluated the planning program in a few select counties. The richest assessment was Arthur F. Raper’s study of Greene County, Georgia, "Tenants of the Almighty." He found that, despite racism, the program made tremendous physical, economic, and psychological gains among the county’s poor blacks and whites. However, a conservative Congress aborted the federal democratic-planning program in 1942; soon thereafter these anti-New Dealers banished critical social science from the USDA. The likes of which have not been seen since, at least not in the United States.

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