Declining Dixie: Regional Identification in the Modern American South


We replicate and extend John Shelton Reed’s classic work on regional identification by examining and modeling the prevalence of the words “Dixie” and “Southern” in business names across 100 cities and four decades. We find that the instances of “Dixie” have dropped precipitously, although identification with the word “Southern” has remained more constant, providing evidence of a trend we term re-southernization. We also find that the relative number of blacks in the population provides the most consistent explanation of regional identity. Population density has also emerged as a significant predictor of regional identification in more recent time periods. These findings contribute to the literature on regional identification, the politics of naming and the sociology of the South.