Not Yet a Placeless Land: Tracking an Evolving American Geography

Not Yet a Placeless Land: Tracking an Evolving American Geography

by Wilbur Zelinsky

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Overview

Not Yet a Placeless Land: Tracking an Evolving American Geography by Wilbur Zelinsky

Today it is taken as a given that the United States has undergone a nationwide process of homogenization -- that a country once rich in geographic and cultural diversity has subsided into a placeless sameness. The American population, after all, spends much of its time shopping or eating in look-alike chain or franchise operations, driving along featureless highways built to government specifications, sitting in anonymous airports, and sleeping in forgettable motels.

In this book, cultural geographer Wilbur Zelinsky challenges that nearly universal view and reaches a paradoxical conclusion: that American land and society are becoming more uniform and more diverse at the same time. After recounting the many ways in which modern technologies, an advanced capitalist market system, and a potent central political establishment have standardized the built landscape of the country's vast territory and its burgeoning population over the past two hundred and fifty years, he also considers the vigor of countervailing forces. In a carefully balanced assessment, he documents steady increases in the role of the unpredictable, in the number and variety of arbitrarily located places and activities, and the persistence of basic cultural diversities. Contrary to popular perceptions, place-to-place differences in spoken language, religion, and political behavior have not diminished or disappeared. In fact, Zelinsky shows, novel cultural regions and specialized cities have been emerging even as a latter-day version of regionalism and examples of neo-localism are taking root in many parts of the United States.

University of Massachusetts Press

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781558498716
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date: 06/30/2011
Pages: 376
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Wilbur Zelinsky is professor emeritus of geography at Penn State University. He is the author of numerous geographical studies of American society and culture, including his widely acclaimed book, The Cultural Geography of the United States.

University of Massachusetts Press

Table of Contents

List of Tables xi

Preface xiii

1 The Argument 1

2 E Pluribus Unum? The Mashing Vs. the Sorting of America 17

3 Pondering the Built Landscape 82

4 The Theater of the Unpredictable 117

5 Territorial Diversities in the Cultural Realm: Yea and Nay 164

6 The Regional Factor 206

7 Is the Jury Still Out 262

Notes 271

References 297

Index 351

What People are Saying About This

Stanley D. Brunn

I do not know any other U.S. geographer who could or would undertake writing about the many topics discussed in this volume. While I know many who could write about a single topic or two, and others who could write about a region, I know of no one who has both the depth and breadth to write such a treatise. There is absolutely no question in my mind but that Wilbur Zelinsky's Not Yet A Placeless Land will be cited by scholars in geography, history, sociology, and American studies for many years.

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