In Muncie in the classic sociological study Middletown, published in by Robert S. and Helen M. Lynd. The name (shortened in from Munseetown or . – Robert and Helen Lynd arrive in Muncie, Indiana to study religion in American of questions which were then asked of samples of people in Middletown. Middletown has 84 ratings and 4 reviews. by. Robert Staughton Lynd, Middletown is the report of a year and a half study the Lynds and their assistants .

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The landmark social study that gave Muncie its place in history also presented America with an image of itself that was both familiar and distorted. Tue 18 Oct They found Muncie, Indiana. They just called it Middletown. They published their findings in with a detailed portrayal of a town becoming less devout and less deferent, more educated and more automated, where women lynx less likely to bake their own bread and more likely to work outside the home, young people lead more independent lives, where public speeches were getting shorter and schoolgirls preferred cotton to silk stockings.

Amid these shifts in gender, generation and religion, the central focus was on class. This was their central aim, to challenge the myth of meritocracy and social fluidityand show how much the America one was born into shaped your life chances.

The view from Middletown: a typical US city that never did exist | Membership | The Guardian

Norman Birnbaum, a longtime Guardian reader and retired academic who contacted me on reading of this project, knew the Lynds in the late s and early s. The book was released to rave reviews and enduring success. And so it is that Middletownand therefore Muncie, became a proxy for the quintessential America.

They clearly wanted it to represent more than just this kynd community. But the reaction was: In Robert Lynd, under pressure from his publishers, came back to do a follow-up, Middletown in Transitionwhich examined the effects of the Great Depression on Muncie. We do not mind being in the spotlight.


Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture by Robert Staughton Lynd

Whether Muncie liked being in the spotlight or not midddletown heavily on what that light exposed. They are the ur-Americans. They are the ground zero of American life.

On the other hand they would bridle at some of the ways that they were portrayed. When the acclaimed photographer Margaret Bourke-White took a series of photographs for Life magazine that showed the deep economic inequalities following the Depression, the town was in uproar. Inas one of our readers notedPBS released a six-part documentary on Muncie called Middletown. One episode, set in Southside High Schoolwhich has since closed, depicted casual drug use, profanity and sexual banter while focusing considerable attention on an teenage interracial relationship.

After tense discussions between local leaders, PBS and the film-makers, the episode was withdrawn and the series sponsor, Xerox, withdrew its sponsorship — but not its funding — from that particular program, which has since been released on DVD.

One person involved in the talks at the time told the New York Times that the decision was made to protect the children. And like a fairground mirror, Middletown gave America an image of itself that was middketown familiar and woefully distorted — an image that the American commentariat preferred to reality. For when the Lynds selected a city they settled on three key characteristics: Muncie did not actually fit the bill for the final point. It did have a small foreign-born population because the local business class imported workers from Tennessee and Kentucky.

But what it did was create this other myth about a representative America — a nostalgic, white nativist America. lhnd

Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture

Nor is it limited to Republicans. I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his centre fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values Every speech should contain the midsletown you were born in the middle of America to the middle class in the middle of the last century For a long time there was no fire station and there is still no supermarket there, she explains, and if a train is on the line and the roads are blocked it can slow down the response time for ambulances.


We pull up at Shaffer chapel and she shows me a plaque.

On 7 August a white mob in Marion, Indiana, some 40 miles away, broke into the local jail with sledgehammers, dragged three black teenagers out of their cell, beat them and then hung two of them from a tree by their necks the third managed to get away.

The night before, they had been arrested and charged with robbing and murdering a white factory worker, Claude Deeter, and raping his white girlfriend, Mary Ball.

Ball later testified she had not been raped.

Lawrence Beitler took pictures of the crowdincluding children, that had come to watch the bodies swing. The bodies were left to hang overnight and were cut down in the morning. Knowing that Marion had no black undertakers, he braved the trip to Marion that morning to pick up their bodies and prepare them for a Christian burial.

This took place just one year after Middletown was published. The view from Middletown. The landmark social study that gave Muncie its place in history also presented America with an image of itself that was both familiar and distorted by Gary Younge. Emerson School group, Emerson School now Emerson dog park Whether Muncie liked being in the spotlight or not depended heavily on what that light exposed.

Muncie Civic Theatre, Muncie Civic Theatre The bodies were left to hang overnight and were cut down in the morning. If you value and enjoy this approach to covering politics, please help to fund our journalism through either a lnyd or a regular contribution.

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