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'A marketing slogan or a geographical reality?' Critically assess the validity of these interpretations of the term 'Sunbelt'.

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Introduction

'A marketing slogan or a geographical reality?' Critically assess the validity of these interpretations of the term 'Sunbelt'. By Katie Clarke The Sunbelt is a term first coined by Kevin Phillips in his book, 'The Emerging Republican Majority'. "He (Philips) coined this term to describe what he believed was an enormously important shift in United States political and cultural geography to the Florida - Texas - Southern California Sunbelt." (Browning & Gesler 1979, p.66). Since this book, many different forms of media have used the term and now many companies use it as a slogan. Many scholars have argued over where the Sunbelt is and if there is one at all. One definition of the Sunbelt is that it is the former cotton belt, States in the south of America that were once the worlds leading cotton producers. Before the invention of the cotton gin the labour intensive industry of cotton picking and shelling relied heavily on slavery. "When slavery disappeared so did the south's main source of collateral" (Schulman 1991, p.3). Without slaves, cotton and tobacco prices plummeted and the south fell into debt. ...read more.

Middle

Where the nation was once top-heavy from cities in the Northeast and Midwest, it is now bottom-heavy from the booming Sunbelt. That shift, in just a half-century, shows how much the Sunbelt has gained against the once unchallenged population dominance of the nation's original urban-industrial core." (www.fanniemaefoundation.org/programs/pdf/census/SunbeltNote.PDF accessed 19/11/03) Federal involvement is an important definer, because as fore mentioned the government helped the cotton belt recover from the great depression though large amounts of federal investment and policies. Finally economic well being is important because the retirees that arrive in large numbers are financially stable, and also because tourism which is widespread in the Sunbelt is extremely lucrative. Using these criteria, the top ten states most likely to be in the Sunbelt are, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Mississippi, Florida, Hawaii and Virginia. These states are mostly in the southwest and do not form any sort of 'belt' which led Browning and Gesler (1979) to dismiss this idea as "Sloppy regionalizing". This technique most likely failed because it is expected that an area as large as the United States would have regional differences. ...read more.

Conclusion

Most of these 'belts' on close examination were found not to be as homogenous as the name suggested." (Browning & Gesler 1979 p.73) Since the original use of the word many American's have come to believe that the Sunbelt is in the American south, an area that has lots of sunshine, continually rising population mostly from migration, long term federal involvement and economic well being. The casual use of the term and the lack of a defined region suggests that this term is not one which suggests a pacific place but more of an idea of place. The Sunbelt inspires ideas of all that is great about America. This is why many companies now use it within their name or part of their marketing slogan. As Rice (1981) believed, the Sunbelt is, "A convergence of attitude with latitude". Browning, C.E., and Gesler, W., 1979, 'The Sunbelt-Snowbelt: A Case of Sloppy Regionalizing', Professional Geographer, vol: 31, no: 1, pg: 66- 74 Fanniemaefoundation.org/programs/pdf/census/SunbeltNote.PDF accessed 19/11/03 Rice, B.R., 1981, 'Searching for the Sunbelt', American Demographics, issue: March Sawers, L., Tabb, W., 1984, 'Sunbelt / Snowbelt, Urban development and Regional Restructuring' Oxford University Press, New York Schulman, B.J., 1991, 'From Cotton Belt to Sunbelt', Oxford University Press, New York ...read more.

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