- This study examines the phenomenon of local mobilization to promote community growth in a stratified probability sample of 92 minor civil divisions in Pennsylvania. Consistent with an ideology of growth in American society, social scientists have repeatedly documented strong support for local growth and development among both community residents and local political leaders. This overriding common interest in growth translates into collective social action by individuals and groups which often dominates the local interactional field, resulting in a characterization of communities as "growth machines." In spite of this widespread documentation of growth promotion as a key component of the community field, however, sociological knowledge regarding factors leading to the emergence of growth-oriented social action is extremely limited. Moreover, considerable debate and uncertainty exist with respect to the degree to which such actions may exert meaningful influences on the pattern of economic and demographic change in local societies., The present research utilizes a synthesis of a social action perspective and the tradition of human ecology in the development of a theoretical model of causal relationships comprising the local growth process. Social action to promote community growth is viewed as emergent with respect to ecological and structural constraints which partially determine the nature, strength, and effectiveness of the interactive phenomenon. By considering social action in conjunction with ecological and structural components of the growth process, the model permits the researcher to examine the demographic consequences of collective social action by individuals and groups to promote economic growth and development in small urban places., and The model is tested using structural equation procedures to assess the direction and strength of hypothesized causal effects. The findings indicate that a substantial proportion of sample variation in a composite scale measuring collective action to promote business and industrial growth can be accounted for by considering accessibility of the community, prior rates of population change, size of place, power centralization, and aggregate socioeconomic status of the local population as causally predetermined ecological and structural variables. Contrary to expectation, however, the estimated causal effect of social action to promote growth on subsequent rates of population change is negative, indicating that local growth promotion efforts had not resulted in demographic expansion in the sample communities. These findings are discussed in terms of theories of mass society and the declining viability of local efforts to implement purposive community change.
- Dissertation Note:
- Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University 1980.
- Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 41-10, Section: A, page: 4515.
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