Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Alan Jacobs

Second Advisor

Dr. Ann Miles

Third Advisor

Dr. Arthur Helweg

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This thesis explores the social and cultural dimensions of volunteer fire departments (VFDs) in West Michigan. Through interviews and observations of four VFDs, important dimensions of social cohesion and variability within and between the departments and communities are revealed. An emphasis is placed upon the gender relations within the departments and their effect upon the relations in the larger community. From these companies, a sketch of a small West Michigan community is derived. If used as a companion with other research of Midwestern communities of a greater scope and sample size, an understanding of social organization and social structure may be achieved.

Included in

Anthropology Commons