Traditionally, rural settlements were associated with agriculture. In modern times other types of rural communities have been developed.
The settlement where the occupation of the majority of people relate to the local natural resources is called rural settlement for example, (1) settlement of fisheries along sea coast, (2) settlement of tribal people in the forest area and (3) settlement of farmers along the banks of rivers.
There are some salient characteristics of rural settlements.
Rural area is sparsely populated because many people leaves rural areas and settles in the urban areas for more facilities.These society has homogeneity. in its profession that is their only source of earning is agriculture and this is transmitted from generation to generation.There is homogeneity in dress, language and customs. It means all these remain same because their culture is same they belong to the same area.These areas have got slow means of communication.Rural areas have very slow rate of change because of lack of education and modern technology.These settlements have got simple culture transmitted from generation to generation.Rural areas have got informal social life that is they spent their life in a. simple way.Rural communities have got strong relationships and interactions of the people. It means that they help each other in distress and shares the happiness.In such areas there is less rate of pollution because there are no factories and mills and the number of automobiles is less.In such areas people shows great hospitality to their guests and treat them as a member of a family.
Size of the Community:
The village communities are smaller in area than the urban communities. As the village communities are small, the population is also low.
Density of Population:
As the density of population is low, the people have intimate relationships and face-to-face contacts with each other. In a village, everyone knows everyone.
The primacy of Agriculture:
Agriculture is the fundamental occupation of the rural people and forms the basis of the rural economy. A farmer has to perform various agricultural activities for which he needs the cooperation of other members. Usually, these members are from his family. Thus, the members of the entire family share agricultural activities. That is the reason why Lowry Nelson has mentioned that farming is a family enterprise.
Close Contact with Nature
The rural people are in close contact with nature as most of their daily activities revolve around the natural environment. This is the reason why a ruralite is more influenced by nature than an urbanite. The villagers consider land as their real mother as they depend on it for their food, clothing, and shelter.
Homogeneity of Population:
The village communities are homogenous in nature. Most of their inhabitants are connected with agriculture and its allied occupations, though there are people belonging to different castes, religions, and classes.
In rural society, social stratification is a traditional characteristic, based on caste. The rural society is divided into various strata on the basis of caste.
The frequency of social interaction in rural areas is comparatively lower than in urban areas. However, the interaction level possesses more stability and continuity. The relationships and interactions in the primary groups are intimate. The family fulfills the needs of the members and exercises control over them.
It is the family, which introduces the members to the customs, traditions and culture of the society. Due to limited contacts, they do not develop individuality and their viewpoint towards the outside world is very narrow, which makes them oppose any kind of violent change.
In rural areas, mobility is rigid as all the occupations are based on caste. Shifting from one occupation to another is difficult as caste is determined by birth. Thus, caste hierarchy determines the social status of the rural people.
The degree of social solidarity is greater in villages as compared to urban areas. Common experience, purposes, customs, and traditions form the basis of unity in the villages.
Joint Family System :
Another characteristic feature of rural society is the joint family system. The family controls the behaviour of the individuals. Generally, the father is the head of the family and is also responsible for maintaining the discipline among members. He manages the affairs of the family.