Community Media Representations of Place and Identity at Tug Fest explores an annual interstate tug-of-war between two small towns along the Mississippi River. In this book, Johnston examines how media shapes place and identity of people at this festival. In writing this book, he conducted analysis of a ten year period of media coverage, and found that the experience people have while attending Tug Fest is quite different than what is said in classic novels about life on the Mississippi River.
Michael O. Johnston is assistant professor of sociology at William Penn University and is a host for New Books in Sociology (a channel on New Books Network).
Introduction: The Birth of a Tug Fest
Chapter 1: The Making of Place and Identity in the Midwest
Chapter 2: Kiddy Tug, Farm Boys, and Beefy Women: Identity and Body Politics
Chapter 3: Hands Covered in Resin: Party Tourism or Sport Tourism
Chapter 4: The Tides that Bind and Unravel: The Social Construction of Environment
Chapter 5: More than Just a Map Dot: Globalization and Tourism
Conclusion: The Mississippi River All but Lost Its Wild
Afterword: Tug Tied
About the Author
"From the iconic study of Yankee City parades by W. Lloyd Warner, examining festivals has been influential in understanding how communities define themselves in space and time. By detailing how two Mississippi River towns celebrate their past and present, Michael Johnston provides an insightful contribution to local sociology. Tug Fest, a friendly tug-of-war between two cross-river settlements, powerfully demonstrates how sporting competition builds meaning for residents and visitors. A most welcome contribution to cultural sociology and environmental studies."
“Clearly written and engaging, Community Media Representations of Place and Identity at Tug Fest by Michael Johnston skillfully investigates how a tug-of-war festival on the banks of the Mississippi river both draws from and shapes a place, its local and international identity, historical path, and economic and tourist prospects."
"Every summer, two Midwestern American towns separated by the Mississippi River are connected by a half-mile-long rope and a rich symbolic world. In Community Media Representations of Place and Identity at Tug Fest: Reconstructing the Mississippi River, Michael O. Johnston does a deep sociological dive into the Great River Tug Fest: equal parts tug-of-war competition, booze-soaked party, and all-around celebration of life on America’s most storied river. More than just a good party, however, Johnston draws on a range of sociological thought to present Tug Fest as a ritual of postindustrial rebirth and collective effervescence—an account that will be valuable to anyone interested in tourism, community media, and the sociology of sport."
The book provides more than just an invitation to learn about a unique set of communities. Tug Fest presents an opportunity to consider how individuals continue to renew communities amidst shifting socioecological conditions by creatively reimaging their relationships with each other and the environments in which they live. In an era characterized by socioecological disruptions associated with shifting economic production processes and climate change, such analyses are invaluable.