Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Linda Baer


This paper explores Talcott Parsons' theoretical use of social systems models with applications for understanding the ability of a social system to exploit external economic resources, both capital and labor, while examining the pattern maintenance functions of the system that maintain the population base. As social systems address common problems, four basic categories of activity are delineated by Parsons. Concentrating on the vertical cells of Adaptation and Latency, the economic sub-system is examined for its affects upon the migration process. Four distinct economic types are identified with four different patterns of migration based upon the theoretical perspectives of Parsons. This paper suggests that Location-specific capital (LSC) may be associated with the ability of a social system to develop strong pattern maintenance as identified by Parsons, that maintains the population base and weakens the push-pull effect. Data taken from the County-to-County Net Migration tape supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau was used to identify South Dakota counties having patterns of net in and outmigration above and below the statistical mean. Four county types were created based upon Parsons' paradigm of adaptation and maintenance. Variables associated with both adaptation and maintenance patterns were then selected to measure their relationship with county types. Using stepwise selection, the variables were examined to see which ones would support the theoretical model. Six variables were selected with a Wilks' Lambda of 0.261, accounting for approximately 74% of differences between groups. Discriminant analysis was used to classify counties into clearly defined groups in contrast to classification of the theoretical model. Testing Parsons' theoretical model using census data may be the first application of this kind. Subsequent refinements to the model should be encouraged using different variables that would increase the statistical explanation of the theory.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Parsons, Talcott, 1902-

Social systems

Migration, Internal -- South Dakota

South Dakota State University Theses



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University