When we talk about Emerson's self-reliance, we are talking about an intellectual or ideological self-reliance. For this reason, I don't know that living in an agricultural setting makes self-reliance any more difficult or any easier than living in a non-argicultrual setting.
The opening question here is really interesting and, to my mind, quite difficult. Assessing the degree of one's independence and originality of thought is not an easy thing to do. Though a person may feel that he or she is a free-thinker, that person may be absorbing ideas from the local culture, from art and literature, and from friends in ways that are quite subtle.
As a person living in a semi-rural county (foothills of Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California), but having been raised in the SF Bay Area, I find it much easier to be self-reliant in a rural community. We are a small county, and as such, do not have nearly the number of conveniences that cities have: 24-hour stores, ample public transportation, delivery services for a variety of things from restaurants to dry cleaners, etc. Heck, it's hard just to find a restaurant open past 8 p.m. that doesn't have a drive through...Our schools do not have the money to spend on technology that many other counties have, so our children are learning to be resourceful as well. We have fund raisers to buy uniforms, pay for a music teacher at the elementary school, even to pay for a librarian at our high school!
I'm an anti-cell phone person myself. Can you believe that I don't have one? It amazes me that people have to be talking to someone no matter where they are. I enjoy my quiet too much. But don't you dare take my computer away!
I agree with Amy, it's far easier to have technology in this world than not to have it. When you don't have those creature comforts like computers, cell phones, cars, televisions, etc. you have to find other ways to get things done and more often than not you have to be resourceful and self reliant to get those tasks accomplished.
This is so appropriate for me since I recently moved from Florida to Kentucky and just last month the contract I had started in Florida for my cell phone expired. I have been without a cell phone for one month and I thought I would go nuts not having one...just the opposite has happened. It is rather nice not being "located" all the time.
Being from the country and growing up on a farm, I have to cast a vote for country folks being more reliant. People who don't depend on the grocery store for their food and stores for their clothes are always going to be better off in a catastrophic situation.
This question would be better suited to the discussion board.
Only you can answer this question because it is asking for your opinion. In my opinion, it is more difficult to be self-reliant today because of our technology. We need someone to run the power stations so that our computers and TVs and phones and microwaves and other devices keep running. We depend on people in China and India and other countries to make our clothing. We rely on foreign oil to power our vehicles. It seems as if the more technologically advanced we become the more we depend on someone else to provide that technology to us.
Are people in rural areas more self-reliant? Maybe for food or home heat, but I don't think they're any different than urbanites when it comes to most things.