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Sarah VanSlette (Speech Communication)

2012-2013

“The problem of regional exclusivity: Studying St. Louis’ “Where did you go to high school?” culture and its implications for non-natives, with a focus on economic and reputational effects”

Sarah VanSlette

Description:

“The problem of regional exclusivity: Studying St. Louis’ “Where did you go to high school?” culture and its implications for non-natives, with a focus on economic and reputational effects”

The inspiration for this research line started with a string of recent discussions with transplants who have been told by natives: "we don't need new friends- we've got all the friends we need" and this exclusion makes it very difficult to meet people and make a comfortable life in St. Louis. The negative reputation of St. Louis among non-natives is one that I find hard to swallow, and the economic implications are depressing, as well. If our lack of hospitality makes talented people want to leave St. Louis, corporations should care a lot about this problem, as should the local and state (IL and MO) governments.

Research Questions and Hypotheses’:
RQ 1: How do their opinions of St. Louis influence transplants’ decisions to leave the St. Louis Metro area?

H1: Their opinions of St. Louis and the "where did you go to high school" culture are related to their desire to stay or leave St. Louis.
RQ 2: How satisfied are transplants with the level of inclusion they feel as new residents of the St. Louis Metro area?
H2: Many transplants are unsatisfied with the level of inclusion they feel as new residents of the St. Louis Metro area.
RQ 3: What factors affect transplants’ feeling of inclusion or isolation?
RQ 4: What can be done to positively influence the transplants’ feelings of inclusion?

RESEARCH PRODUCT:

Dr. VanSlette has submitted an essay with the above title to be published in the forthcoming journal:

St. Louis Currents: Facing Regional Issues at 250

Editors: Terry Jones (UMSL Emeritus) and Andy Theising (IUR Senior Research Fellow)

Partners: FOCUS St. Louis, St. Louis Metropolitan Research Exchange STLMRE, and SIUE

Publication Date: Spring 2015

Abstract

This study explores transplants' feelings about St. Louis, St. Louis natives, and being asked “where’d you go to high school.” We first briefly discuss the reputation of St. Louis and the way transplants feel about St. Louis. Next, we review the methodology used to conduct the survey and subsequent in-depth interviews. Finally, we discuss the results of the transplant survey and offer insights from the interviews with transplants, as well.

Dr. VanSlette’s work is ongoing.

Contact Dr. VanSlette: svansle@siue.edu

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