Don Martin

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Robert M. Dimit


Description of the Problem For nearly everyone in our society, remunerative work has provided a meaningful role. It also provided an avenue for the attainment of respect, dignity, and the essentials of the "good life." On the other hand, unemployment has necessitated reliance on programs for the indigent and unemployed. The central focus of this study was the Janus-headed problem of unemployment and underemployment. The approach was oriented to a level of organization which has not previously been adequately explored. Unlike most of the studies which have attempted to meliorate the exigencies of unemployment, this study focused on the needs and attitudes of the employers since it is they who ultimately provide jobs. A four pronged approach was used which explored: (1) the characteristics of employers; (2) characteristics of the businesses; (3) the determination of differences between selected characteristics of the employers and their hiring policy; and, (4) the determination of differences between the businesses and the hiring policy of the employer. Role Theory provided the framework for analysis. Summary of the Investigation The universe of this study consisted of employers in a five county area of South Dakota. A total of 1,121 businessmen were interviewed in order to assess: (1) selected characteristics of employers; (2) selected characteristics of the firms; (3) information on the attitudes of the respondents toward their hiring practices relevant to particular groups of people and; (4) the perceived needs of the employer. Farming businesses, except for trucking, were not included in the investigation. "Business" included any social organization that provides a service, sells a product, produces a product or any other enterprise that employs people. Only those employers whose businesses were located within city limits were selected for respondents. "Employer" was used to refer to the social actor whose role expectations include the hiring of employees. Chi-square tests were done in order to determine if there were any statistically significant differences between selected characteristics of the employer or their businesses and hiring policy. This allowed for the testing of the research hypotheses which were oriented toward the determination of the influence of a social actor's role in his hiring policy. Conclusions In addition to an analysis of selected characteristics of both the employers and the businesses this study found that employers place more emphasis on traits such as neatness and honesty than on job experience, ethnicity, or educational attainment. This occurred irrespective of the employer's age, sex, or place of residence. Neither was it dependent upon the size of the firm or the type of business. Neither age-role nor sex-role exerted complete influence on the hiring policy of the employer. Instead, both were subservient to the employer-role. Attitudes which arose as a result of a social actor's various roles were not general. Age and sex did not exert undue influence ln all areas of the individual's life. An individual's social role may be important in the formation of his attitudes, but extreme care must be exercised when indicating that any one specific role determines attitudes in general.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Employee selection -- South Dakota
Social psychology
Personnel management
Working class -- South Dakota



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University