Big Box Retail Erodes Communities and Eases the Way for Hate Groups

From Atlantic Cities:

new study published online in the journal Social Science Quarterly – which seems sure to turn heads at Walmart headquarters – suggests that big box stores may be even more closely correlated with the presence of hate groups than many of the factors that have long been used to explain them.

Before anyone gets too worked up, the study’s authors aren’t saying that Walmarts cause hate groups to form (they’re also using Walmart here as a stand-in for all big box stores; Target merely got off the hook in the study headline). Rather, this research suggests national mega-stores like Walmart may fray the social capital in a community – by disrupting its economy and displacing the community leaders who run local businesses – in ways that enable hate groups to take hold.

More than that I would say the sprawl quite simply erodes the infrastructure and proximity that builds community. Big box retail exists because of sprawl and suburbanization.

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