Behavior: Middletown Revisited

Muncie adjusts to change

Though it sometimes galls the town fathers, Muncie, Ind. (pop. 83,000), is famous for being ordinary. In 1924, Sociologists Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd decided that Muncie was "the typical American city" that could reveal how small-town America had developed and where it was going. The Lynds trained themselves in anthropological methods and descended on Muncie as if it were a settlement of New Guinea headhunters. The result was two classic books, Middletown (1929) and Middletown in Transition (1937), that shrewdly foreshadowed the next two generations of American...

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