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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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Concluding Reflections

Concluding Reflections

Community in Small Towns

(p.341) 11 Concluding Reflections
Small-Town America

Robert Wuthnow

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the various factors that contribute to residents' sense of community in small towns. The discussion draws from Suzanne Keller's ethnographic study of community life in which she identifies ten key building blocks of community: territory or turf, membership criteria, an institutional framework, cultural values, a belief system, a myth of community, rituals and celebrations, a leadership structure, social networks, and the spirit of community. Keller's use of the term “institutional framework” refers to the laws, rules, sanctions, and rewards that provide governance to a community, whereas community values include cooperation and sharing. Community spirit in small towns is reinforced through periodic rituals that draw people out of their homes and away from work long enough to enjoy one another's company, engage in celebratory activities that involve sharing, and do something that explicitly reminds them that they are residents who have something in common.

Keywords:   community, small towns, Suzanne Keller, community life, territory, membership criteria, ritual, leadership, social networks, community spirit

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