Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Dr. Orville Menard


The subject of this thesis is life satisfaction as it relates to older persons living in small, rural communities. Particularly, this study is concerned with potential low life satisfaction and loneliness due to limited interaction and increasing social isolation resulting from the decline of rural communities. The focus of the study, Prague, Nebraska, is a village that continues to survive as a social system in which community members, especially older residents, interact and live in a familiar, ongoing social environment. The study looks at the social processes of this small, rural community that has over the years redefined and solved the problems of subsistence, social relations, and social identification within its locality. This has enabled the community to persist. A presentation of the social psychology of the community shows that the traditional nature of the peasant population who settled the community has been maintained through ritual and symbolism. Central to these peasant traditions has been commitment to the survivability of the community. A collective identity has evolved through a process of ritual and symbolism allowing older residents to maintain social relations and interactions resulting in positive effects on life satisfaction. Older persons are not isolated in Prague, but are an important part of this intergenerational community.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Sociology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Gerald Wayne Allen May 4, 1994