Plainville Fifteen Years Later

Plainville Fifteen Years Later

Plainville Fifteen Years Later

Plainville Fifteen Years Later

Excerpt

Plainville Fifteen Years Later is a welcome and excellent addition to the scant list of anthropological restudies. Here the restudy (and new study, since field problems and methods inevitably change) is of a Missouri farming community that I studied in 1939-40. "Plainville" was then "relatively isolated and . . . 'backward,'" and resisted many aspects of social change that attacked its traditional folkways. Much of the resistance centered on "scientific farming" (which not only assailed folk knowledge but also symbolized governmental interference with a way of life), and it extended to many other areas of "modernity."

In the sympathetic description and skillful analysis of Art Gallaher, Jr., the Plainvillers of today come alive to our eyes and ears--changed a little even in language during fifteen years; changed greatly in their economy, work habits, and attitudes toward money, leisure, and frugality; changed most in their acceptance of the principle of constant change, as induced by its "professional advocates": namely, the government agencies dealing with rural development and welfare and the mass communicators who deal with everyone everywhere, via press, radio, and television. In 1939-40 the voices against change were numerous and often angry; now they are fewer and more muted. (I cherish the wry lament of someone who says, "We never go visitin', always stayin' home glued to the idiot box [television].") Dr. Gallaher's book is an intensive analysis of the economic changes, and the accompanying changes in social structure and perceived values, in Plainville during the years from 1940 to 1955. For lack of good soil and other resources, Plainville is still a relatively poor community, but its people have moved closer to the . . .

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