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Small-Town AmericaFinding Community, Shaping the Future$
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Robert Wuthnow

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157207

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157207.001.0001

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Contentious Issues

Contentious Issues

The Moral Sentiments of Community Life

(p.263) 8 Contentious Issues
Small-Town America

Robert Wuthnow

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how perceptions of moral decline intersect with the reality of living in towns experiencing population declines and diminishing job opportunities. The specific moral issues of concern that residents of small towns most frequently mention are abortion, homosexuality, and education issues, such as teaching the Ten Commandments and creationism alongside evolution. Whole communities were sometimes divided between factions that supported or opposed a revision to the school curriculum, or because a local pastor declared themselves to be in favor of gay marriage. There are other moral issues that townspeople said were important enough that they should receive more attention than they do—problems such as drug use and alcoholism, job training, school improvement and consolidation, the gap between rich and poor, and protection of the environment.

Keywords:   moral decline, population decline, job opportunities, small towns, abortion, homosexuality, education, creationism, evolution, school curriculum

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