First published in 1958, Small Town in Mass Society set community
studies on a new course by placing the small town within the
framework of large-scale, bureaucratic mass society. Drawing
attention to the dynamics of class and ethnicity in relation to
economics and politics, this landmark work was among the first to
document the consequences of centralized administration on life in
Through a close study of "Springdale, New York", Arthur J.
Vidich and Joseph Bensman depict the small town as continuously and
increasingly drawn into the central institutions and processes of
the total society. Vidich and Bensman based their conclusions on
extensive interviews with and close observation of the inhabitants
of one community. The original publication of the book caused a
sharp response among the town's citizens who felt their trust had
been violated and their town misrepresented.
The present volume includes the editorials and correspondence
evoked by that controversy, the authors' articles describing their
methodology, a new foreword by Michael W. Hughey, and a new
afterword in which Arthur J. Vidich gives an account of the
creation and history of the book.
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