In 1924, the sociologist couple Robert and Helen Lynd arrived in a small Midwestern city they called Middletown (it was Muncie, Ind.) to study and survey the place.

Their classic 550-page “Middletown” described a community starkly split between a “working class” (factory workers and laborers totaling 71 percent of the population) and a “business class” (owners, managers and professionals comprising 29 percent). This division, the Lynds wrote, was Middletown’s “outstanding cleavage” and influenced work, marriage, religion, leisure — almost everything.

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