Rural System's and The Q Works

Quality of Life

Quality of life can be approached in many ways. Much time can be spent on definitions.

Herein we take several approaches seeking to describe the parts that lead to the bases for a Q, a quality of life index. We may not know what it is exactly, but we might be able to develop an index expressive of an approximation. Developing the index and the system behind it is a major part of The Q Works.

One way to imagive the space, here in three dimensions with constraints
Quality of life can be viewed as a multidimensional abstract space with planes or surfaces within which humans live mentally and or physically. To the extent that life is entirely within the space, it can be judged to be of high quality. To the extent that it is outside of or approaching the boundaries from within, the quality may be viewed as poor, bad, or of low quality.

Quality of life is specific for a human population. The population changes in proportions of sex, age, physical abilities, etc.

Needs are fundamental human social group requirements for life as perceived by analysts over time. They may differ for individuals:

Maslow's list: ...

Extremes in some of these may be viewed as pathologies

When Q is plotted over time, a significant change can be expected when managerial work begins. There may still be fluctuations due to weather, illegal activity, or others but the condition after management integrated as the Q index, is significantly different from that before management and system control.

Cordell et al. 1993) identified objectives of private forested and rural land owners with appropriate averages for those in the North and South:

  1. Just to have a place to live in a rural environment 66
  2. Personal recreation 40
  3. Creating an estate for heirs (expected among an older-aged population) 36
  4. Making money from sale of crops 17
  5. Making money from sale of livestock 16
  6. Making money from timber sales 12
  7. Making money from sale of parts of the tract 9
  8. Making money from sale of hunting or fishing fees 2
Aspirations are desired conditions or services relative to needs, typically within the abstract space. They occur now and tend to be expressive of or statements for the future.They occur when there are deviations from being within the abstract space or when the conditions there are viewed as better than those of the present. They may change.

Resources are means by which aspirations are achieved - services, products, opportunities, views (as landcape), information, ideas, memberships, and memories.

Quality of life is a expression of the probability and proportion of the aspirations of a group of people being achieved. It is dynamic. Q* is an expression of the perfect state, the desired or ultimate condition (within plus or minus 3 percent). Q is the general expression of the quality of life index used in discussions. Qt is the expression of the quality at some time, usually within some week (or day, but data for such estimates are expensive and tned to reduce quality of life of the people developing the index.)

Managing a resource base for a desired future condition is paramount in our work. The "desired future condition" is not known. It cannot be a certainty. A high risk is certain. The strategy employed within Rural Ssytem has elements and assumptions that follow:

  1. We attempt to see 150 years ahead; we use several planning periods within the 150-year period sliding ahead one year each year.
  2. We assume people today will want equal or better conditions for their children and children's friends
  3. We assume major changes in the natural world processes (e.g., gravity, lunar cycles, plant responses to temperature) will not occur.
  4. We assume that fossil energy, phosphorus, and nitrogen will be in short supply, thus costly unavailable at desired times, etc.
  5. We assume that at least 20% of the projected future will be like the present resource support base (e.g., forest land)
  6. 100% liquidation of present "natural"conditions will not be allowed.
  7. We believe a shared literacy and awareness of land and their processes ... and how people rely upon and affect them can help build receptivity and support for the sophisticated management and care that is needed.

We have developed the objectives for wildland owners. We have the refined list of Blacksburg citizen objectives.

We work at developing a comprehensive list , the criteria for a high quality of life. The following list is from various sources and is a mix of ideas about processed, changes, and suggestive of basic objectives:


Maslow,A.H. 1970. Motivation and personality, 2nd ed. Harper and Row Publishers, New York

Maslow,A.H. 1971The farther reaches of human nature, The Viking Press, New York,

Stanger, R. 1970 Perceptions, aspirations, frustrations, and satisfactions: an approach to urban indicators. Annals of the Amer. Academy of Political and Social Science, 388: 59-68

Galtung, J. 1972. From value dimensions for social analysis to social indicators, Univ Zurich

Campbell, A and P.E. Converse, ediors, 1972. The human meaning of social change. Russell Sage Foundation, New York

Andrews, F.M. 1974. Assessing the quality of life as people exerience it. Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, 1974.

RA Bauer, editor, 1966. Social Indicators (chapter) in Gross, B.M. editor1966. The State of the Nation: social system accounting. The MIT Press,Cambridge

Allardt, E. 1972. A welfare model for selecting indicators of national development, Univ Helsinki

IRADES, Institute of Research and Education in Futures studies, 1973. Human futures and human needs, new societies, supportive technologies (6 volumes), Rome

Goulet, D. 1973. The cruel choice: a new concept on the theory of development, Center for the study of development and social change, New York Atheneum, Cambridge, Mass.

Jarett, I.M. 1971. Key factor analysis: the logic that relates the hospital to society, Hospital financial management


February 7, 2005