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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 American communities.
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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