Power structure and social participation in community action: a case study

Hasab-Elnaby, Abdel-Hamid
Major Professor
Vernon Ryan
Stephen Sapp
Committee Member
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Sociology and Anthropology

This study identifies the community power structure and the pattern of leadership in a Midwestern city besides describing the social participation of those individuals who were active in the most important issues carried out in their community through the three years prior to 1981. The reputational approach and social exchange theory are included in the theoretical framework to guide the study. The study involves a survey performed by the Department of Sociology, Iowa State University, in 1981. Participants were selected through a snowball technique starting with ten knowledgeables in the community. The final size of the sample was 120. In the interview stage, each subject was asked to limit his/her active participation to at most five issues in which he/she had participated the most;The findings of the study show that the majority of participants are married males with different levels of income and education. Based on the number of votes each individual received, a classification of top rank, middle rank, and low rank leaders is formed. Top leaders are considered to be elites not only because they represent a minority among all the leaders (eighteen out of 120) but also because they tend to have a higher IER (Income, Education, and Residency) Score. Middle and low rank leaders are considered nonelite leaders;With relation to class, status and power relationships among the elites, results show that they have no status relationship, but that they have class and power relationships in the form of clusters;Elite leaders are found to have the highest scope of participation. The elite leaders are also found to have higher extent of participation than nonelite leaders;Concerning participation in different types of issues (instrumental, expressive, and combined), the top leaders have slightly greater participation in all three issue types than do the low rank leaders, but they are nearly equal in this concern with the middle rank leaders. Elite leaders do not have greater participation in instrumental issues than in expressive or combined issues. Top rank leaders also participate more in the issues with the least degrees of conflict than do the middle rank and low rank leaders.