Small Town in Mass Society

Class, Power, and Religion in a Rural Community (rev. ed.)
Author: Arthur J. Vidich and Joseph Bensman
Foreword by Michael W. Hughey
Invaluable for understanding the place of the small town in a growing society, with new material detailing the town’s reaction to the publication of the book
Paper – $32
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/2000
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About the Book

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 recounts the creation and history of the book.

About the Author

Arthur J. Vidich, professor emeritus of sociology and anthropology at the New School for Social Research, is coauthor of Collaboration, Reputation, and Ethics in American Academic Life: Hans H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, among other books. The late Joseph Bensman was a distinguished professor of sociology at the City University of New York and the author of numerous books, including The New American Society: The Revolution of the Middle Class (with Arthur J. Vidich).


"A reprint of the classic . . . small-town study combining sociology and anthropology. . . . This edition will be of special interest because of a 28-page reminiscence by surviving author Arthur Vidich concerning the project and the ways in which colleagues and others reacted to the book."--Journal of the History of Behavioral Sciences