Nostalgia for America's village past: Staged symbolic communities

  • Diane Barthel

Conclusion

Staged Symbolic Communities have become important cultural forms in contemporary America. Assimulacrums of community, they offer a vision of the organic community with which few contemporary communities can compete. They offer an outlet from the work organization of mass bureaucratic society enabling the tourist visitor to feel both relaxed and in control.

Visitors to SSCs take away more than souvenirs and decorating ideas. They also carry lessons regarding identity, history, and community. The “Williamsburg effect” involves more than paint colors and the attractive presentation of historic villages. It is now the leading architectural model for new communities, the colonial town replacing suburban sprawl (Mohney and Easterling 1989). We have yet to see whether this model will indeed prove the “radicalism of tradition” (Calhoun 1983), resulting in the restoration of community structure and affective ties, or whether the step backward suggested by SSCs is simply and only that.

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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane Barthel

There are no affiliations available

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