Down Country Lanes, Behind Abandoned Houses

Down Country Lanes, Behind Abandoned Houses

Indexed in: Book Citation Index, Social Sciences & Humanities.

Based on six years of extended ethnography in multiple agricultural areas of the Eastern United States, Down Country Lanes, Behind Abandoned Houses is a monograph which explores the lives of migrant ...
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Pp. 57-102 (46)

DOI: 10.2174/9781681081045115010005

Author(s): Keith V. Bletzer


This chapter focuses on the home-base community’s staging area, where men and women interact in small-group clusters, seek work or secure transportation to farmlands surrounding Agton. The staging area provides settings for comradery, exchange of information on future work, and access to stores and taverns. I describe the history and current circumstances of Agton, and through data from extended ethnography, explore the rootedness of “players” in and around the staging area. Despite their structural vulnerability, farm workers in Agton express an amiability in these settings that supports an evolved strategy for defusing potential violence and avoiding fights in downtown streets and bars.

The chapter introduces Quentin and Anna among several users who were players around Agton, and ends with a description of two brothers, Lanton and Payson. One field note snippet (like the life stories, also randomized) includes Anna and Quentin as cluster participants. Each of these two individuals, and others such as Howard, had a unique style that represents the divergence in social interaction within the street life of the small town of Agton. Each was respectful of other men and women the many times that I observed and interacted with them in the staging area of Agton.


Behavioral isolates, clusters, flophouses, generational depth, homebase, infra-structure, La Calle, migrant labor, nucleated settlement, participantuser, places/spots, rootedness, rugged communalism, scrapping, seasonal workers, segmentation, social aggregation, staging area, townspeople, Walk-About, waves of workers.