In 1977, Robert Lynd’s former student and successor in the sociology department at Columbia University, Theodore Caplow replicated the Lynds’ original study of Muncie, Indiana. Caplow was assisted by Howard Bahr and Bruce Chadwick. We call this study Middletown III. This study was supported by the National Science Foundation. Caplow and his team published their findings in two books: All Faithful People and Middletown Families.
The principal findings of Middletown III were numerous. The class system that the Lynds had discovered in 1924 had not completely disappeared, but its important was much reduced. This was partly because most of the industry upon which the class system was based had moved away, shut down, or gone out of business entirely. The new employers in Middletown were service industries such as the hospital and the university and the resulting pattern of class relationships was more diffuse.
Contrary to many contemporary commentators, Caplow, Bahr and Chadwick discovered that the Middletown family was not disappearing and religion remained vitally important to the vast bulk of Middletown’s residents. But some of the content of these two institutions had changed. Families were more often broken by divorce. Religion had lost much of its prescriptive character and become an elective part of people’s lives.