[Review] Habits of the Heartland: Small-Town Life in Modern America

Book Reviews

parenthood as women who have avoided unwed motherhood through
abortion or later marriage. Although most Japanese mothers avoid out-
of-wedlock birth in the sense that they are married when they have a
child, it is likely that few women find themselves in the critical situation
where they have to make the "tough choice." By interviewing unwed
mothers instead, Hertog shows what made their decision to be an unwed
mother so difficult. It is also noteworthy that the interviewees told the
author about very sensitive matters such as contraceptive use, their re-
lationship with the child's father, and his reaction to the pregnancy. Her
success in designing the selection of interviewees is an inspiration for
other scholars doing qualitative research into sensitive subjects.
This study of the persistence of the rarity of illegitimacy would have
been more robust had it been complemented by research on couples in
shotgun marriages, since it may have neglected unmarried and pregnant
women in a good relationship with the father of their expected child.
However, Tough Choices can be recommended for, among other things,
providing a rare and graphic description of Japanese women's decisions
on marriage and birth.
Habits of the Heartland: Small-Town Life in Modern America. By Lyn
C. MacGregor. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2010. Pp. xii+270.
$22.95 (paper).
Gabe Ignatow
University of North Texas
Based on Lyn C. MacGregor's dissertation at the University of Wisconsin-
Madison, Habits of the Heartland is an ethnographic study of Viroqua,
a small town of approximately 4,000 residents in southwestern Wisconsin.
MacGregor's two years living in Viroqua was time well spent: she collected
a great deal of ethnographic and interview data, and her arguments re-
garding the town's social divisions are generally convincing and well
supported as a result. MacGregor comes across as a trustworthy guide to
Viroqua, and the book is well written and genuinely edifying.
Habits of the Heartland's guiding argument is that Viroqua contained
three main groups who lived in "parallel societies" (p. 26)-Regulars, Main
Streeters, and Alternatives-and that members of each group had sys-
tematically different ideas and assumptions about what it means to be
part of a community. The Regulars were generally the town's working-
and lower-middle class residents, almost all of whom had lived in Viroqua
for several generations. For Regulars, community was something "natural"
and spontaneous that required little conscious direction or effort, and they
were suspicious of the motives of Viroquans who organized elaborate and
time-consuming community projects. Main Streeters were members of the
town's civic elite. They were generally wealthier and more highly edu-


Ignatow, Gabriel. [Review] Habits of the Heartland: Small-Town Life in Modern America. [Chicago, Illinois]. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc78295/. Accessed December 10, 2016.