Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Vernon D. Ryan

Second Advisor

Terry L. Besser


The purpose of this study was to investigate community involvement at the individual-, community-, and age group-levels, with a focus on elderly groups. Major research objectives were to identify: (1) what factors cause individuals to be involved in their community work, (2) what factors result in differences in the level of community involvement by different communities, and (3) what factors explain age group differences in the level of community involvement.;Data from a mail survey completed by 13,692 residents from 99 rural towns, 11 small cities, and 4 metropolitan cities in Iowa were used for analysis. The results of multiple regression analysis at the individual level indicate a general support for the rational choice explanation that individuals get involved based on expected personal benefits. However, a greater variance was explained by local ties and local church attendance, supporting the view that actions are embedded in social relations which constitute social capital. Density of acquaintanceships, residential stability, and community population aging (the proportion of residents who are 75 years old or older) are positively and significantly related with community-level community involvement. The level of age group community involvement varies significantly by age group, supporting the basic assumptions of the age-stratification perspective that people and roles are stratified by age. The average level of involvement of Old-Old Groups (75 years of age or older) was significantly lower than the average levels of involvement of both Young-Old (between 55 and 74) and Young Groups (younger than 55). Age group community involvement varies significantly by community type. Rural towns had a significantly higher level of age group involvement compared to small or metropolitan cities. Finally, age group involvement is positively affected by the level of age group local ties. The current findings suggest the need to address issues relating to cultural or other structural barriers that prohibit older community members from being involved in their community.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Kyong Hee Chee



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

121 pages