chapter
18 Pages

Introduction / Themes and Issues

WithDaniel J. Elazar

American civilization has been shaped by four decisive forces: the frontier, migration, sectionalism, and federalism. American civil communities have existed in a variety of forms, urban and rural, ranging from the traditional New England town or rural southern county of yesteryear to the metropolitan center. The urban civil community almost invariably has a city at its core, no matter how much its population and political system may transcend the formal municipal limits. Similarly, county lines almost invariably mark its potential outer limits. Approximately 40 per cent of all the inhabitants of metropolitan America, or some 25 per cent of the nation’s total population, live in urban civil communities of 50,000 to 250,000 population. The medium-size metropolitan civil communities upon which this study is based are all located in the greater West—more specifically, in the area between the Great Lakes and the Continental Divide.