Date of Award:

5-2010

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Advisor/Chair:

Dr. John C. Allen

Abstract

Utilizing survey data collected in four communities in the State of Utah, this study examined the extent to which rural resident perceptions and attitudes toward local community circumstances influence their own expectations and attitudes subjectively toward future community development alternatives. Understanding perceptions of community and community development, as well as the patterns of localized community development, is crucial and needs to consider residents' opinions and attitudes toward unique rural economic, environmental, and social conditions in order to help preserve the unique characteristics of the way of life while continuing economic improvement and social betterment in rural areas. Three conceptual frameworks of development (economic, environmental, and social) are applied in this study to explore the relationship between local residents' general attitudes toward the current conditions in their community and their attitudes toward development alternatives. I examine how these three development frameworks guide rural scholars to understand whether the pattern of community development is consistent across the region or localized from community to community. Four different types of rural communities were selected in a Utah-wide community survey in the summer of 2008. These communities are facing four different change patterns: an increasing senior community, an energy-development community, a recreational community, and a constant community that has remained stable over the last five decades. Each type of community has its unique economy, lifestyle, culture, and environment, in which local residents have developed a way of life in response to these changes in social and economic structures. Research findings indicate that the local residents' self-perceptions of community economic situation are not significant indictors to support the arguments of the economic development framework. However, indexes of environmental and social development frameworks are found to have strong associations with locals' environmental and social development alternatives. Also, different types of rural community show different demands for community development strategies, implying that a single development framework would not be sufficient to explain the complex of local residents' perceptions and attitudes toward community development unless the researchers integrate other perspectives into the model.

Included in

Sociology Commons

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