Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Terry L. Besser


According to Ray Oldenburg in The Great Good Place (1989), gathering places, or third places are a key component of a prosperous community. He argues that these places, e.g. coffee shops, bowling alleys, and parks, are essential for the health of both the people in communities and for the communities themselves. Connecting Oldenburg to Putnam (1993, 1995, 2000), these gathering places serve as a source of social capital for communities. Using data from a study of community life in 99 small Iowa towns, I explore the role that gathering places play in the social and economic well-being of small communities. Findings indicate that eating establishments, city parks, and town squares most often form the core of small towns' gathering places networks. Weighted densities of gathering places' networks are significantly correlated to attitudinal measures of bridging and bonding social capital. However, the theory provided by Tolbert, Lyson, and Irwin (1998) that towns with richer gathering places' networks have better socioeconomic outcomes is not supported.

Copyright Owner

Crystal Elaine Peoples



File Format


File Size

77 pages

Included in

Sociology Commons