ERIC Number: ED171440
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977
Reference Count: 0
The Small Town in America: A Guide for Study and Community Development.
Swanson, Bert E.; Cohen, Richard A.
Small town community improvement planning is often subjected to urban type analysis. When concepts applicable to the largest cities are grafted onto small towns, a misunderstanding of small town problems and prospects is often the result. Social ecology offers a framework for understanding what a small town is, how it functions, and what is uniquely important about it. It focuses on four dimensions: (1) social structure; (2) the local economy; (3) influence patterns; and (4) cultural norms. These dimensions are highly interrelated and to understand a small town (population less than 10,000) without coming to grips with them is "impossible, inadequate, and seriously misleading". In this manual the basic elements of social ecology are explored. Chapter II discusses the social structure of a small town--the characteristics and dynamics of grouping small towners according to indicators of status and prestige. Chapter III presents the local economy as an essential analytic component, and Chapter IV explores the patterns of influence--who shapes opinions, where decisions are made, and how government is implemented. Chapter V's discussion of cultural norms involves both the kinds of beliefs and values and the institutions that generate and preserve them. In each chapter a discussion guide lists tasks to assist the reader in applying the concepts toward his own community. The final chapter integrates the four dimensions and discusses their meaning for small town problem solving. (Author/DS)
Descriptors: Community Attitudes, Community Characteristics, Community Development, Community Planning, Community Study, Cultural Influences, Cultural Traits, Decision Making, Economic Factors, Leadership, Local Issues, Methods, Political Power, Politics, Power Structure, Problem Solving, Program Design, Rural Urban Differences, Social Influences, Social Stratification, Social Values, Urban Problems
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC. Office of Environmental Education.
Authoring Institution: Institute on Man and Science, Rensselaerville, NY.
Identifiers: Small Communities; Social Ecology