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Place Attachment, Urban Discontent, and the Foundations for Progressive Politics | Andrew Reeves

Place Attachment, Urban Discontent, and the Foundations for Progressive Politics

Abstract

We explore the foundations of the well-documented urban-rural political gulf in the United States and other western democracies, theorizing that it is anchored in the variable extent of residents’ satisfaction and place attachment. Consistent with a long tradition of sociological findings, we first demonstrate that attachment to one’s neighborhood of residence is much higher among rural populations than in big cities. This variation in place attachment is ultimately an important font of political and policy attitudes, accounting for the gaping ideological differences between urban and rural areas. Politically relevant grievances arise most acutely when they are shared, as prevailing conditions in specific social environments. The more dissatisfied one is with the place they live, the more attractive they find the policy goals and political agenda of liberal progressivism. Greater contentment with place, on the other hand, is predictive of politically conservative viewpoints.