People Like Us: Shaping Newcomer Acceptance in Rural Boomtown Communities and Schools

Vincent R Genareo, Matthew R Filteau


Rapidly growing rural communities may experience many forms of disruptions, jeopardizing residents’ place attachment and identity. This qualitative case study uses the boomtown and newcomer/oldtimer literatures to examine how schools shape the local ‘us-versus-them’ discourse. Data for this research include interviews with community members (n=27) and interviews and observations of K–12 school staff (n=14). Findings indicate boomtown residents and teachers strengthened their place identity and attributed place disruptions and risks to newcomers, inhibiting their acceptance. Administrators’ planning decisions and teachers’ pedagogy in practice shaped this discourse. Teachers reinforced newcomer resistance by presenting them as symbols of disruption and risk which threatened their traditional rural community identity.

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