small town, conservatism, ideology, sociology, rural sociology, urban sociology, political science, Parsons, Tonnies, gemeinschaft, traditional society, rural, pattern variables, theory, sociological theory, rational choice theory, panopticon, panopticism, branches of conservatism, premises of conservatism, exceptionalism, politics, interdependence, dependence




Marshall Battani


The small town has often been a romanticized topic for the public at large. Often it is discussed in terms of quaintness and nostalgia for an older time; meanwhile, the effects of the small town in the here-and-now are glossed over and not given sufficient attention to fill in the finer details (Bellah et al. 1985). Prominent sociologists cite the small town and rural society as a source of conservative ideology (Wuthnow, 2014; Smith & Krannich 2000), however, they fail to show how conservative ideology is supposedly created in the small town. Instead, sociologists and the public at large blindly accept conservatism in rural society as a putative “fact” that is “confirmed” by anecdotal observations or is seemingly common knowledge. Through my research, I aim to fill that gap of sociological knowledge. This article discusses core values held by members of the small town, the major premises of conservative thought, how these are developed in the small town, and how they relate to broader conservative ideology in the United States. In this article, I believe sociologists and general readers alike will find that proving the assumption of conservatism in rural society is more complex than previously assumed and that the insights from proving it are worthwhile in a goal to better understand society as a whole.

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