Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Social structure, City and town life, Rural-urban migration



Physical Description

4, viii, 107 leaves 28 cm.


Among the major interests of students of urbanism and urbanization in the United States have been the understanding and explication of differences between urban and rural segments of American society. Coupled with this has been an attempt to theoretically delineate the effects of these differences on the social psychological adjustment of urban and rural inhabitants. The culmination of this work in sociology is to be found in Wirth's (1938) essay "Urbanism as a Way of Life." Wirth identified three major differences between urban and rural lifestyles which have been the impetus for considerable research and controversy. The three major differences identified by Wirth are: 1. the weakening of primary relationships, 2. the development of a distinctly urban personality characterized by rationality, utility and adaptability, and 3. the development of a community based on interest rather than locality. Research has, to date, been equivocal in its support or rejection of these differences. This dissertation represents another attempt to test what might be called the "Wirthian hypotheses II but with a major departure from other attempts. Rather than using current urban or rural residence as the major independent variables, urban or rural residences at age 16 are used. The research was conducted using data from two sample surveys, one a national sample (the "General Social Survey" conducted by NORC in the Spring of 1975), and one a sample of Portland, Oregon's 65 and over population (the "Supplementary Security Income Survey" conducted by the Institute on Aging in 1975). The research was limited to older persons 60 years of age and over. This dissertation, then, is an attempt to gauge the effects of residential history on the three central hypotheses derived from the earlier formulations of Louis Wirth. The three research hypotheses are: 1. Lifelong urban residents are likely to exhibit less intense primary group/ties than are lifelong rural residents or urban migrants. 2. Lifelong urban residents are more likely to develop adaptable and individualistic personality structures than are lifelong rural residents or urban migrants. 3. Lifelong urban residents are less likely to maintain a community based upon proximity than are lifelong rural residents or urban migrants.


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Portland State University. School of Urban Affairs.

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