Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research17:145-54 (Fall 2007). Copyright ©2007 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Inhabitants in the villages of Jefferson County, Kansas, respond to socioeconomic changes in a variety of ways. Empirical research conducted in 2004 revealed multiple discourses that constituted such responses. The shop-locally discourse emerged in structured interviews, newspaper articles, and newspaper advertisements as an emblem of socioeconomic empowerment. Discourse was analyzed within its context and interpreted to provide some insight into residents' responses to change. The discourse revealed not only nostalgia for formerly vibrant commercial districts but also the importance of economic vitality to social life. Shopping locally today, however, will not restore yesteryear's social milieu. The proximity of midsize cities in adjacent counties pulls the economic lifeblood out of Jefferson County, transforming the villages into bedroom communities. If their economies are to be revitalized, inhabitants will need to become more thoughtful and creative agents of change within their own villages.