A Community's Power Structure and Its Influence Upon Decision-Making Within the Public School

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership and School Counseling

First Advisor

Sandra Lee Gupton

Advisor Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling


The topic of this dissertation is a community power structure study conducted in a selected county in Mississippi. Chapter One presents an introduction to the topic and outlines the need for such studies. Chapter Two presents a review of literature identifying four major types of community power structures and the historical progression of research efforts related to the study of community power structures from the early 1900s through the 1990s. This literature review serves as the basis for the study outlined in subsequent chapters. Chapter Three is an outline of the research methods utilized and Chapter Four is an analysis of the data. Chapter Five reports the summary of the study complete with implications and suggestions for further research. The study revealed a power structure of 31 individuals with varying degrees of influence. These influentials were divided into three groups. The most influential group had five members, the middle group had ten, and the least influential group had 16. The researcher identifies three types of influence in the study: ultimate influence, conductive influence, and perceptible influence. The researcher described ultimate influence as those with "true" power who influence others to take action. Those taking action are serving as conduits and, therefore, have conductive influence. Individuals who are perceived by the community as having influence are said to have perceptible influence. The researcher describes the phenomenon of multiplying influence as "multi-fluence." Significant findings indicated that the community's power structure was transitioning from a long-standing monopolistic structure toward a multi-group non-competitive structure. Another finding indicated that the school officials in the county school district held a narrow view of the community's power structure because they could only identify the county board of supervisors as being influential.