The Rural Sociological Society was founded in 1937. It is a professional social science association dedicated to promoting the generation, application and extension of sociological knowledge about rural societies, including agriculture. The Society seeks to enhance the quality of rural life, communities and the environment. Membership in recent years has fluctuated around 1000 members. Currently, 130 of them are International Associates. Roughly one percent of those attending the Annual Meeting are international members. The RSS is a founding member of the International Rural Sociology Society. Many of its contributions to global rural sociology have been made through this organization since its founding in 1972.
The Society donates volumes of its principal journal, Rural Sociology, to libraries in less affluent nations through the New School for Social Research in New York. During the past year it donated journals to five libraries in Latvia, Hungary, Romania and Nigeria. Over the years, libraries in other nations have benefited from this program.
The Society maintains a scholarly exchange program with Mexico, designed to encourage research and professional development of rural sociology in that nation. Through this program, rural sociologists in Mexico receive support from the Rural Sociological Society to attend Annual Meetings of the RSS, where they present the results of their research and exchange research findings with RSS members resident in the United States.