Saturday, May 29, 2010

"Habits of the Heartland" Puts Viroqua Wisconsin Under the Microscope

Link to May 28 Vernon County Broadcaster opinion piece, "Sociologist’s impression of Viroqua an unflattering bar time exposé".

Excerpt:   While the city of Viroqua has been poked and prodded by other interested parties -- sociologists, marketers and armchair cultural anthropologists -- Macgregor’s look at the community was conducted because she says the city reminded her of her upbringing in small-town Connecticut.

“Viroqua attracted me because it promised to be an interesting case for a community study,” she wrote.

Macgregor, once an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Montana, went about studying Viroqua by living in Viroqua for a couple of years in the early 2000s.

In her book, she determines that the community is split into three subcommunities “The Alternatives,” “The Main Streeters” and “The Regulars.” To make this easy for everybody, “The Alternatives” are the Ridgers, the “Main Streeters” are the downtown business boosters and “The Regulars,” well, they’re just the folks who live here

From the publisher's description of the book.  Although most Americans no longer live in small towns, images of small-town life, and particularly of the mutual support and neighborliness to be found in such places, remain powerful in our culture. In Habits of the Heartland Lyn C. Macgregor investigates how the residents of Viroqua, Wisconsin, population 4,355, create a small-town community together. Macgregor lived in Viroqua for nearly two years. During that time she gathered data in public places, attended meetings, volunteered for civic organizations, talked to residents in their workplaces and homes, and worked as a bartender at the local American Legion post.

Matt Johnson says pa-tay-toe.  Cornell University Press says po-tah-toe.

The book was originally published as a PhD thesis

According to WorldCat, UW-Madison Memorial Library owns a copy, as do 7 other libraries (5 U.S., 1 Canada, 1 UK.)

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