Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

William F. Woodman


This dissertation explores the paths individuals and organizations take to choose cultural ideas and transform those ideas into social actions. Each chapter is written as an article to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. Data for this set of articles comes from content analysis of the Dear Abby newspaper column, archival records from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the stories of professional city planners working in a particular planning context. These studies are not psychological examinations of why actors select certain cultural ideas over others. Rather, the studies examine the structural elements actors navigate in modern life such as the extent to which choices are voluntary; shifting cultural ideas and expectations; and the need for trusted sources for sanctions and rewards. The first chapter introduces the four chapters that follow and situates these within the context of social change. The second chapter uses content analysis to view the Dear Abby newspaper column from 1956-2005 as a modern reflection of Durkheim's concept of the conscience collective. The third chapter uses content analysis from twenty-one Dear Abby newspaper columns to examine the current relevance of neighboring. The fourth chapter uses archival information from the National Trust for Historic Preservation's collection at the University of Maryland to offer a case study of a social movement organization that has had and continues to have an influence on local development decisions. The fifth chapter uses the stories of professional planners to describe how conflicting institutional values are negotiated and used in a particular planning practice context. The sixth chapter is a general conclusion for the dissertation. It ties the preceding four chapters together and discusses the contributions and limitations of this study as well as areas for future research


Copyright Owner

Karen Quance Jeske



Date Available


File Format


File Size

160 pages

Included in

Sociology Commons