"I was Born in a Small Town:" Separating Myth from Reality in Heartland America
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of History Honors Theses; 2009
The Ohio State University. Department of Sociology Honors Theses; 2009
Pickaway County is an area just south of Columbus with a distinct rural flavor that is facing stark economic and demographic changes. It provides an excellent opportunity to study small town values, which are frequently mentioned in public discourse but rarely examined. In the book Habits of the Heart, the authors argue that modern American culture has come to be dominated by individualism and dismiss the idea that small communities represent an exception. I interviewed nine Pickaway County residents of various backgrounds to discuss their values, sense of community, and to ascertain their views on the future of the community. Through these interviews, I have been able to illustrate the nature of the rural community in Pickaway County, demonstrating that small towns have distinct communitarian values separating them from pure American individualism. Though the community faces daunting economic challenges and future development that threatens its cultural stability, it remains unique. The small town is an integral part of American traditional culture, and holds importance for millions of Americans as places like Pickaway County struggle to adapt and survive to meet the challenges of today’s world.