Investigating rural college student identity and how it changes during the college experience
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One’s sense of identity is derived greatly from the environment and cultural group in which one has grown up. The field of intercultural communication examines different cultures’ social codes for behavior and communication; however, academic study of rural and urban subcultures in the U.S. has been limited. This study examines rural identity from the perspective of college students who grew up in rural areas and entered a more urban social environment. Freshmen were interviewed to investigate rural identity in young adults who had recently left the rural area, and seniors were interviewed to investigate how the rural identity changes due to the college experience. Interview data showed that rural students do share a unique identity that differs in certain ways from the identities portrayed by urban students. Evidence was also found that links these differences in rural and urban identity to differing levels of individualism and collectivism in each subculture.