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Small-Town America by Robert Wuthnow

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Community Spirit

Small-Town Identities That Bind

ALTHOUGH THEY LIKE THE SLOW PACE OF LIFE and small scale of their towns, residents most often say the best thing about living in a small town is simply the people. They know one another and regard one another as good neighbors. They appreciate seeing familiar faces and waving to people they know on the street. It is a kind of storybook existence, as people describe it—like a scene from a 1950s’ television program. But folksy depictions wrapped in half-hour segments for family viewing are hardly reality. We need to move the camera in for a closer look.

Myrna Zlotnik lives in a coastal community of six thousand that is seventy-five miles from the nearest city of any size and a seven-hour drive ...

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