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Poll: American Communities Feel Disconnected From Each Other

A majority of American communities feel misunderstood by outsiders, but also consider themselves poised to understand outsiders’ problems, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday.  

(CN) – A majority of American communities feel misunderstood by outsiders, but also consider themselves poised to understand outsiders’ problems, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday.

Earlier this year, researchers questioned 6,251 Americans and found “that many urban and rural residents feel misunderstood and looked down on by Americans living in other types of communities.”

The survey considered urban, suburban, and rural communities across four geographic regions. As America’s population grows and ages, it is becoming more diverse, but change is felt unevenly across these landscapes.

Two-thirds of urban and rural residents agreed that “most people who live in different types of communities don’t understand the problems they face.”

“The divides that exist across urban, suburban and rural areas when it comes to views on social and political issues don’t necessarily extend to how people are experiencing life in different types of communities,” said Kim Parker, the study’s lead author. “On some of these things, people assume the gaps are wide, but the gaps aren’t as vast as people think, it’s really nuanced.”

Many respondents across the board had lived in their community for more than a decade and considered both drug addiction and employment among their greatest issues.

Other problems were community specific, according to the poll, “rural adults are more likely than their urban and suburban counterparts to say access to public transportation and to high-speed internet are major problems. For their part, urban dwellers express greater concern than those in suburban and rural areas about the availability of affordable housing, crime, poverty and the quality of K-12 education in public schools.”

When researchers got down to dollars and cents, a majority of Americans reported feeling underserved in terms of federal funding. While a third of Americans believe their needs are adequately funded, 71 percent of rural residents feel like they receive less than their fair share, compared to 57 percent of urban residents.

More than half of those polled agreed to disagree—with 54 percent of urban residents believing rural areas have different values, and 58 percent of rural residents feeling estranged from urban values. About half of suburban respondents felt their values differed from the other communities as well.

“Most Americans say people who live in the same type of community as they do generally share their values, but they are less convinced that those in other types of communities do,” Parker said.

Urban, suburban and rural communities also reported sharing feelings of a hectic lifestyle, loneliness and isolation.

About half of city dwellers perceive an urban-rural divide on values, while about half also feel like they share suburban values.

Paradoxically, while a majority of Americans feel misunderstood by other communities, a majority also consider themselves well attuned to the concerns of others.

“While many Americans, particularly in urban and rural areas, don’t think others understand the problems people in their type of community face, majorities say they personally understand the problems faced by people in other types of communities very or somewhat well,” the researchers wrote. “This is the case among urban, suburban and rural residents asked about each of the other two types of communities.

The poll also highlighted the concentration of Republicans in urban communities, compared to heavily Democratic cities.

Partisan affiliation also follows trends in stances on key social and political issues, including if they favor the president, as well as “opinions about race, immigration, same-sex marriage, abortion and the role of government.”

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