You’re Not From Here!: The Consequences of Urban and Rural Identities

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As the American political landscape becomes increasingly divided along urban–rural lines, it raises the prospect of deepening social identities that are tied to one’s community-type. As community-type becomes an important social identity, it can lead to favoritism of one’s community in-group, or denigration of one’s community out-group. We explore the extent to which urban and rural identities exist above and beyond other factors like party and race, and whether they are consequential for the ways in which people evaluate the political and non-political world. Using national survey data, we demonstrate that people in both urban and rural locations hold beliefs that are consistent with a community-type social identity that is independent of other factors which are correlated with the urban–rural divide. We use two different experiments to assess the consequences of this identity, finding that there are distinct effects in the political arena when allocating government resources, and in the non-political world when judging hypothetical job applications. These effects are generally smaller in magnitude than other factors, such as partisanship, but suggest that community-type identities are important in politics.