Community Attachment in Vegreville, Alberta

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  • In the process of social change communities are impacted by internal and external forces which may threaten their existence as social entities. In an attempt to understand these processes much of the research into community attachment has focused on the relationship between social bonds and local sentiments in urban communities. Goudy (1990) used these variables and examined community attachment in relation to 27 communities in rural Iowa. His findings suggested that the prevalent model for community attachment, the systemic model, was also applicable to rural communities. Iowa data suggested that survival of the rural community as a social entity was dependent on residential stability and the existence of social bonds in the community. Implicit in this is that disruptions to a community due to sudden population change pose a temporary threat to the local social structure. Following a period of social disruption a new social structure evolves which includes both long-term residents and newcomers. This research examines social bonds and local sentiments in a small, rural community located in south central Alberta ten years after a boom in its population occurred. The case differs from other research on boomtowns for several reasons. The first is that Vegreville is located within commuting distance (90 km) of the provincial capital of Edmonton, on a major divided highway. Secondly, population growth was stimulated by the establishment of a government research facility which brought highly skilled new residents into a small town which had served predominantly as a retirement community for agricultural people from the surrounding rural areas. The circumstances provided an opportunity to examine the long-term effects of a large scale in-migration on a small community with respect to social bonds and local sentiments.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International