Mariah Moran

Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


College of Social Work

First Advisor

Naomi Farber


In the context of the recent surge of interest in domestic U.S. geographic mobility, this study presents findings on the reasons people choose to move or not move that challenge the predominant explanations of geographic mobility and responds to the need for theoretical expansion. This qualitative study is set in a rural county of Georgia, further situating the findings alongside the rural-urban continuum literature. In-depth interviews were conducted with thirty participants from the rural county that represent three different mobility decisions: people who stayed, left, and returned. The findings suggest that there are multiple connected reasons for mobility including three novel reasons that emerged from the data. Those three novel reasons include: one, psychosocial development which describes individuals grappling with identity formation, seeking intimacy, and generativity as part of their mobility decisions; two, the tension of being known versus anonymity which describes a push and pull within interpersonal dynamics; and three, the centrality of relationship which describes the importance of relationships which is a common thread throughout all reasons for mobility. Additionally, the findings suggest that individuals share a common iterative developmental process as they negotiate different opportunities, challenges, desires, and obligations in their mobility decisions. The findings offer unique contribution to the literature as they represent integrated themes of interpersonal and intrapersonal aspects of mobility. The findings elevate the importance of relationships, a developmental process, and goodness of fit within reasons to move or not move.

Available for download on Thursday, October 05, 2023

Included in

Social Work Commons