Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. James C. Petersen

Second Advisor

Dr. Thomas Van Valey

Third Advisor

Dr. Sue Crull

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Helenan Robin


My research examined the role of elites in the quality of life from 1890 to 1990 in two southwestern Michigan communities: Kalamazoo and Calhoun counties. This research is grounded in three research literatures: community power, elites and quality of life. My approach combined a quantitative analysis of six dimensions of quality of life and an historical analysis using case methods to look at the two communities over a 100 year time span.

My assumption at the beginning of this study was that elites play a major role in the quality of life. My data showed that some elites did have major impacts on quality of life in the early period of the study when two elite organizations, the Upjohn and Kellogg companies were formed. The quality of life that developed in each community reflected a white collar-blue collar dichotomy based on the employment requirements of the Upjohn and Kellogg companies. Over the course of this study, this pattern continued and was strengthened. The study also drew on the nondecision approach to community sources which says that elites may behave in covert as opposed to overt ways in taking actions, including those that have an impact on quality of life.


Fifth Advisor: Dr. John Houdek

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access