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Distanciation and the Recontextualization of Space: Finding One's Way in a Small Western Community

From: Journal of American Folklore
Volume 120, Number 476, Spring 2007
pp. 178-203 | 10.1353/jaf.2007.0035


In the 1990s, the city of McCall, Idaho, and the surrounding region implemented the Rural Addressing System. The system assigned a name to every street and a number to every house and erected visible signage for both. Although a seemingly minor bureaucratic operation, the Rural Addressing System is a concrete example of Anthony Giddens's concept of space distanciation, and as such, it is a significant component of modernity and globalization. By investigating the impact of the Rural Addressing System on this region—particularly on the ways in which people give directions and think about space there—this article sheds light on how abstract processes such as modernization and globalization actually manifest in everyday life, the effects of those processes, and how people respond to them.

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