Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Sociology

Committee Chair

Rebecca Richards


community leaders, devolution, rural restructuring


University of Montana


Regional governments exist in an overwhelming majority of the United States and are often considered a necessary and natural progression of a developing region. Alaska offers a unique opportunity to explore perceptions of regional incorporation, as it is the only remaining state in the Union to have unincorporated area. Thus, after a rural region of Alaska petitioned the state legislature to politically incorporate, I conducted qualitative in-depth semi-structured interviews with local community leaders to explore their perceptions of the proposed incorporation. Existing literature often refers to leaders as either elite, self-interested individuals or as functional, community-interested individuals. This study explored the perceptions of incorporation held by formal and informal community leaders to ascertain the degree to which support or opposition to borough incorporation was based on this proposed ‘interest’ dichotomy. These results were then interpreted in the context of the rural restructuring that has arguably been occurring in the state, and specifically the Deltana region. These interpretations led to the creation of a values orientation framework through which I described leaders’ opinions as either ‘future focused’ or ‘historically grounded’.



© Copyright 2008 Michelle Albus Johnson