Rangeley Case Study

1810 Words 8 Pages
Constructing Place Distinction
In what follows I document permanent residents’ and second homeowners’ parallel construction of place distinction. Both groups tend to agree on what lends meaning to Rangeley; both call upon the rural idyll—that rural life is simple, virtuous, and different from urban life—to explain what makes Rangeley distinct (Woods, 2011). While this, itself, is not particularly surprising, given the enduring narratives of rural life (Williams 1974; Hummon, 1990; Bell, 1994; Woods, 2005, 2011), what is of particular interest is how both view second homeowners—who are not, themselves, rural—not as a problematic exogenous force, but as a marker of what makes Rangeley distinct and as assurance of its worth. Both groups celebrate
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When I asked second homeowners to explain to me how they chose Rangeley as a destination for their second home, their narratives necessarily involved comparing Rangeley to their permanent residences as well as other vacation destinations, which works to uphold Rangeley’s distinct rural qualities. They situate Rangeley as immune to the very exogenous forces—shifting economic and social conditions—that they perceive have changed their first homes and the other vacation destinations they cite. Ray best captures this first narrative, as he explains the changes he experienced in his first home in New …show more content…
Another narrative that I heard from Rangeley residents is best captured by Ron, a permanent resident who frequented the restaurant I worked at over the summer. One afternoon he and his wife had been to a benefit at a second homeowner’s home on Rangeley’s “gold coast,” the predominantly Jewish enclave. He informed me that it is well known in the Rangeley region that the Jewish enclave on the “gold coast” developed in the early 1900s as an exodus from the anti-Semitism Jewish residents experienced in vacation destinations closer to New York City. However, like Sue, Rob was not lamenting this influx; instead, the influx of second homeowners served as a source of pride and proved Rangeley’s value. These narratives simultaneously confirm normative claims of rurality—i.e., that is is safe and virtuous—but also demonstrate the ways that second homeowners are part of these

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