Plainville, U.S.A

Plainville, U.S.A

Plainville, U.S.A

Plainville, U.S.A

Excerpt

In this book I have attempted to describe from the viewpoint of an anthropologist, but with a minimum of anthropological language, certain phases in the life of a small contemporary American rural community. The materials on which it is based were collected between June, 1939, and August, 1940, and during July and August, 1941, as part of a larger research project on acculturation, financed by the Social Science Research Council of Columbia University, and directed by Professor Ralph Linton, Chairman of the Department of Anthropology of the same institution. The present study was undertaken to attempt to learn specifically and in detail how one relatively isolated and still "backward" American farming community reacts to the constant stream of traits and influences pouring into it from cities and from more "modern" farming communities.

I spent May and June, 1939, in search of a community which would meet certain requirements judged optimal for the investigation. For reasons unnecessary to relate, the selection was limited to the general region of the southern Midwest. Within this area the search was for a town with not over 1,000 inhabitants, which was still a lively trading and social center for farmers living within its trade area. To simplify my research task I sought a community which had the fewest possible economic and social factors which might complicate the problem under scrutiny. This means, economically, that no town was considered if its inhabitants drew any important portion of their income from mines, factories, summer resorts, or any other industrial or urbanizing activity that would confuse the economics of a traditional farming community. It means, socially, that the presence of any foreign-language-speaking group in or near a town, or of Negroes, or of any large non- Protestant or "atypical" religious congregation eliminated the . . .

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