Date of Award:

1981

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Advisor/Chair:

Michael B. Toney

Abstract

This study compares the perceptions of long-term residents in rapidly and moderately growing nonmetropolitan communities regarding the effect of newcomers on the community. Data for the study came from a 1975 survey of 1,065 adults in seven Utah communities. Results show that a significantly larger proportion of long-term residents in rapidly growing communities than in moderately growing communities feel that newcomers are having a bad effect on the community.

The relationship between perceived effect of newcomers and various personal attributes are examined with rate of population growth as a control variable.

The attributes are: 1) length of residence, 2) age, 3) sex, 4) religious preference, 5) income, 6) proportion family living nearby, and 7) proportion of friends living in the community. Brief attention was given to examining newcomers' perception of the effect newcomers are having on the community with the use of length of residence variable. The differences between the long-term and short-term residents were not statistically significantly different. But because of theoretical and practical consideration the remainder of the analysis focused on the attitude of long-term residents.

None of the differences between the subgrouping for the respective attributes were statistically significant in both moderate and rapidly growing communities. In rapidly growing communities only one hypothesis was supported with respect to the differences in attitude towards newcomers. The supported hypothesis was that Mormons would be more likely to perceive the effect of newcomers as being bad than would non-Mormons. within the moderately growing communities, statistically significant differences were found between income groups, but they were not in the direction of the hypothesis.

Perhaps the most important evidence that rate of population growth influences the long-term residents' perception of newcomers is that, except for non-Mormons, the percentage feeling that the effect of newcomers was bad was highest in rapidly growing communities. This indicates that the pressures associated with rapid growth are generally perceived across a wide variety of subgroups. The particular exception, the non-Mormons, suggests that in particular cases a subgroup might perceive the changes as beneficial and to view the overall process of growth , including the newcomers, more positively.

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