Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Sociology and Anthropology
Jesse S.G. Wozniak
The world of American politics continues to infiltrate households across the United States as technological advancement extends the reach of breaking news and government action. With this expanding reach, communities all over the country are digesting and contemplating their place in national politics more fervently than ever. At the crux of this discussion is the backbone of political engagement and action—identity and its resulting political attitudes. For decades, partisanship has been a point of contention amongst American citizens. Cities across the nation showcase protests, demonstrations, town hall meetings, and more illustrating citizens’ care for their democratized input in government affairs. But what about those in the quieter parts of America? Until recently, rural America has been overlooked (and underseen) by the social and political sciences. This study illuminates the rural perspective on attitudes toward politics and peers as well as the role of rural identity in attitude formation. As a state with multiple kinds of rurality (suburbia, exurbia, rural farmland, small towns, and Appalachia), Pennsylvania proves worthy of its own analysis—particularly as it finds itself at the heart of political action as a battleground and swing state since the 2016 presidential election. Utilizing in-depth interviews from rural and small-town Pennsylvanians and observational data from the areas in which they live, this study explores rural Americans’ input on their individual contributions to government affairs as well as rural political attitudes and community needs/expectations from their elected officials— ultimately offering a renewed and under-considered perspective on rural identity and rural political attitudes.
Zimmerman, Mikaela G., "The Heart of Everything in the Middle of Nowhere: The Role of Rural Identity in the Formation and Deployment of Political Attitudes in Pennsylvania" (2022). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 11312.