Date of Award:

2003

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Advisor/Chair:

Richard Krannich

Abstract

Most sociological analyses of community attachment have focused on the strength of attachment, with little concern for the qualities or attributes of a place to which people become attached. In cases where dimensions of attachment are the focus of analysis, the literature is rather narrowly focused on social dimensions, re ferring most often to connections with family, friends, and other social networks and largely ignoring the realm of natural environment factors. Two primary premises motivated this study. Fi rst, sociological understandi ngs of community attachment wou ld benefit from an expanded analytic framework that incorporates more complex arrays of both social and natural environment dimensions. Second, it is important to understand what variations in attachment may mean for the broader well-being of rural communities.

Initial analyses of the data demonstrated four key results. First, factor analysis of fi fleen indicators of attachment produced two distinct dimensions of community attachment, social and natural environment. Second, the nature of the response patterns indicates that strength of natural environment attachment is widely shared amongst a variety of res idents, regardless of length of residence, historical roots to the area, or life cycle. Third, participation in collective action and perceptions of open communication (measures of well-being) within a respondent's community explained only a small portion of the variance in both social and natural environment attachment. Fourth, Structural Equation Modeling demonstrated that there is a causal relationship between attachment and community well-being, though that relationship appeared to be non-recursive.

In contrast to much of the previous empirical work on community attachment, this research provides strong evidence of the natural environment dimension and provides justification for further research. This research provides one model to be considered and expanded upon in future research efforts in this area, and supports the need for further attention to the use of multiple dimensions of attachment and their associations with community well-being.

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Sociology Commons

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