Individual and Community Factors Affecting Psychological Sense of Community, Attraction, and Neighboring in Rural Communities


  • *I should like to thank Drs. Ray Bollman, David Bruce, Ivan Emke, Bill Reimer, David Robinson, and Anna Woodrow for comments, support, and inspiration. I am grateful also to the rural respondents who completed the survey, the community representatives who participated in the research, and all those who worked with the New Rural Economy (NRE) Research Project, a superlatively organized project that managed to be effective, innovative, and yet delightful. Thanks to SSHRC for funding. Thanks to the three anonymous reviewers of the Canadian Review of Sociology for their pithy counterarguments requiring protracted reanalysis and reformulation improvements.

Derek Wilkinson, Laurentian University, Department of Sociology, 935 Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, ON P3E 2C6. E-mail:


L'échelle de Buckner, qui comporte trois dimensions—sentiment communautaire (SC), attractivité et voisinage—, fut appliquée à 1,995 personnes de 20 villages canadiens afin d'y mesurer le sentiment de cohésion sociale. Le nombre d'enfants, un revenu dépassant 20,000 $, l'âge, le lieu de naissance et le nombre d'années dans la collectivité exercent une influence positive sur le SC et l'attractivité. Le nombre d'enfants, un revenu dépassant 40,000 $, le lieu de naissance et le nombre d'années dans la collectivité influent de manière significative sur le voisinage. L'interaction accroît généralement la cohésion sociale individuelle. La localisation sur une île étant la seule variable communautaire significative, les politiques individuelles sont à privilégier pour accroître la cohésion.

One thousand nine hundred ninety-five individuals in 20 rural Canadian communities were measured on perceived social cohesion by the three Buckner scale subdimensions: psychological sense of community (PSOC), attraction, and neighboring. Number of household children, income over $20,000, age, birthplace in, and years lived in the community significantly positively influenced PSOC and Attraction. Number of household children (positive for income over $20,000; otherwise negative), income over $40,000, birthplace, and years in the community significantly influenced neighboring. Increased interaction generally increases individuals' social cohesion. As the only significant community variable was being on an island province, individual-oriented policies are recommended to increase cohesion.