Do rural people understand urban people/issues better or vice versa?

With all the talk about the red/blue divide in America being a rural vs. urban divide, and also how the Electoral College and Senate give an unfair advantage to rural red states, I wanted to ask whether Dopers feel that rural people understand urban people and issues better than vice versa.

My WAG is that while both sides stereotype or lack true understanding of the other, it is likely that rural people have a slightly better grasp of urban issues than vice versa; one reason being that some rural issues (such as farming, ranching, etc.) are of a nature that “You have to have lived it or done it in order to understand it” - i.e, how much water a farm needs, the logistics of farming, etc. - whereas urban issues are somewhat more straightforward and easy to understand (rent, crime, diversity, zoning, school districting, etc.)

Of course, “rural people are backward hillbilly rednecks” and “urban people are immoral liberal city snobs” is a stereotype that has endured for many decades…

This matters at the Electoral College/Senate level because decisions made by rural and urban people who do not understand each other’s issues can have a severe impact on each other (rural people who think gun control isn’t needed even in downtown cities and urban people who think rural regions don’t need that much water for farming, etc.)

Other issues aside, I think everyone from everywhere knows just how much water farmers need for their crops, west of the Mississippi that is (east of it, water rights are less of an issue).

The problem is that the urban voters think that the farmers should not receive artificially cheap water compared to the cities, or unsustainably draw fossil water, not that they think the farmers can just magically grow their crops by spreading pixie urine or something on them. There are of course probably some exceptions such as people who unrealistically think farmers could easily implement drastic water conservation methods and still keep almost the same yields, but that’s just a hypothetical that I’ve never heard from an actual person.

Different people have different perspectives.

I’ve given this about three minutes of thought, so I reserve the right to change my mind.

But I was thinking through who the most influential people in society are. For instance, if you turn on the TV or the radio and hear someone giving their opinion, who would it be? You might see a very successful newscaster, maybe a successful movie star or musician or athlete. And I would guess that for you to become wildly and successful and in a position of influence, you would most likely need to spend periods of time in or near a city, for things like concerts or launch parties or press conferences. But you wouldn’t need to spend any length of time in a rural area unless you wanted to. This is not based on any actual research or statistics, just a vague understanding of how I imagine the entertainment industry works.

If this were true, I would offer that rural people would be in a better position to understand urban issues, since they see people in the media explaining those issues. But issues having to do with farming, coal mining – hell, I don’t even really know what the hot button rural issues ARE! – would be harder to understand because you don’t see many people experiencing rural issues in a position of influence, getting their message out.

I wouldn’t conflate rural and agricultural. Most people living in rural areas aren’t in the agriculture sector and are not especially affected by it.

At least in political terms, rural issues are mostly cultural. I’m confident that the typical urban dweller understands christian identity politics better than the typical rural dweller understands, say, anti-racism. Though in both cases there are huge empathy and knowledge deficits, to say the least.

Whoa. Mind blown.

Been both; most rural people have a better understanding of the “other yard” than urban people do. We spend more time reading about the Big Cities and towns and visit to shop and do business - and at least in my generation we were serious nightly news junkies. When we moved into town I adjusted in the matter of days; the couple people I know who took the opposite trail needed a year or more to settle in.

  1. Rural != farmer.

  2. Rural people (like my family) really THINK they know about city life, but most of what they know is bullshit that they got from watching TV.

2a. This also applies to their knowledge of other races, cultures, religions, etc.

  1. Not saying urbanites are better, but I get sick of the “wise, salt of the earth” bullshit.

The differences between any two rural people, and between any two urban people, are overwhelmingly greater than the fact that in another comparison one person is urban and the other rural. I don’t think there’s any significance nationally to this question, because (for example) people in rural New Mexico and rural Minnesota have no more in common than people in rural Ohio and Buffalo NY do. There probably is some significance locally, in areas where one particular urban area and one particular rural area relate to each other in a certain way. Maybe.

I don’t know that either really understands the other, and both probably get skewed and inaccurate ideas of how the other side lives from TV and movies.

To use an example, cop shows make it look like every city cop faces gunfire, fist fights and car chases every shift. That stuff is front-page news when it happens- maybe not the fist-fight part, but cops getting shot? That’s big news and very uncommon. Same for car chases. But that doesn’t mean that some dude in a town of 500 somewhere realizes that. He may well assume that it’s only a little bit exaggerated, and not crazy exaggerated.

I think it’s the dramatically different experiences that make it so hard; for example, I grew up in a very large city, and the idea that my opportunities could be limited is kind of hard to fathom. I mean, even if I choose not to stay with my current career, there are multiple other professional careers I could do, as well as various crafts and trades I could get into if I felt like it. But in small towns/rural areas, there may well be ONE game in town. For example, a friend grew up in a small Arkansas town, and basically outside of the tiny number of government and education jobs, if you didn’t want to work at the single factory in town, or in the paper mill outside of town, there just wasn’t anything to do for a living that was not subsistence level. And my first thought is- “Why would you stay there if you have so few options?” without realizing that it doesn’t quite work that way for the majority of people.

Another one is that moving within a smaller town doesn’t necessarily change anything- things are on such a small scale that you’re literally just changing houses. Contrast this with me- if I moved 5 miles in any direction, it would be a pretty drastic change for my family- it could be any or allo of the following: different city, different school district, different socio-economic area, etc…

I’m not so sure it’s urban vs. rural though; the US is about 85% urban according to the census bureau. I suspect the real divide is probably more like “big city urban core” vs. “suburbs, smaller cities/towns and rural areas”, since there just aren’t enough “rural” types to make a difference.

I’ve had the same experiences, and I agree.

I’d take this further, and say that I think the OP was probably a much better question in 1918 than it is in 2018.

I think The wind of my soul makes a good point. Very few of the people who have a national audience—the people you see on TV or read about in the news/entertainment media, for instance—live out in the country, or in small towns, or even in smaller cities.

I agree with this.

When we leave the country to enjoy the things the city has to offer, we fit right in. When our city friends come out to the country to visit, they are lost.

Well, the current narrative is that Trump/GOP supporters are essentially uneducated, rural white people, so I think they’re wondering why we can’t find common ground.

My point is saying that the “rural” part of that is probably very loosely defined, and really means “people who don’t live within the city limits of a major city” or something. I’m sure they’re counting places like Tyler, TX or Ruston, LA as “rural” despite being cities in their own right, because they’re not in the orbit of Dallas or Baton Rouge.

So when Bump points out that 85% of the population is urban and 15% is rural then you conclude that the Trump/GOP have control of Congress with the support of only 15% of the country? Obviously not–the vast bulk of Trump/GOP support is urban.

Basically the rural population reads the urban media (TV stations are headquartered in cities, it’s common to read the daily newspaper from the nearest city…) but only the rural population read the rural media. While there is some coverage of rural issues in the urban media it is a lot easier to cover stories a few blocks away than 20 miles away plus urban media have a lot more urban viewers/readers than rural viewers/readers. Likewise rural people visit the city for shopping and entertainment regularly–but urban people visit rural areas fairly selectively (vacations…)

I don’t know if there’s a factual answer, but there are a hell of a lot more TV shows and movies portraying urban life. And they’re often not realistic (an elementary school teacher and an intern cannot afford a Manhattan apartment), but exist. And most rural portrayals are rarer, and southern mostly, not Midwest western.

I’m not convinced that suburban people understand urban issues. I have relatives in the 'burbs who assume that they’re in danger of being shot the moment they cross into the city limits.

I’d agree. I live in the suburbs, spend time in the city and know urban people and work in the exurbs and know a lot of rural people. My impression is that neither side wins on technical positions (crop water use vs urban planning, for example) but the more urban people I know could probably give a relatively balanced “This is what those people largely culturally think and why and how it affects things” whereas the rural people are more likely to knee-jerk something and I honestly couldn’t say that they could give a reasonable account of how/why urban people feel like they do, culturally. I’d rather have a city mouse talking to me about Christian identity politics than a country mouse trying to explain institutional racism to me.

That is, of course, a very broad brush answer and doesn’t apply to everyone.

This is more my experience.

I don’t think most people from rural areas really understand the issues that are faced in big cities. (I know that even moving from the suburbs to a city drastically changed my perspective of some issues.) I do think that people from rural areas are more likely to think they understand big cities, while people from big cities are more likely to know that they don’t understand the rural areas.

While I’d agree with that, I don’t think it’s relevant to the OP (as I understood it). Figuring out how to get around an environment is different than understanding the issues that have created and sustained the environment that you’re maneuvering in.