Elites and Change in the Kentucky Mountains

Elites and Change in the Kentucky Mountains

H. Dudley Plunkett
Mary Jean Bowman
Copyright Date: 1973
Pages: 216
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Elites and Change in the Kentucky Mountains
    Book Description:

    Many Americans who trace their roots to communities similar to those of Appalachian Kentucky are becoming aware of the extent to which the problems of such communities represent the price paid for keeping alive traditions that are beginning to be missed in the wider society. Using fresh data and ingenious ways of letting local people speak for themselves, Mary Jean Bowman and H. Dudley Plunkett have thrown light on how isolated, small-town people respond to the encroachment of modern America, with its organized economy, mass communications media, reliance on more and more schooling, and persistent drive for social change.

    The study reveals a pervasive tension between old ways and new aspirations. Sometimes the new is in alliance with the national culture, but often tensions between regional and national ways are acute. The authors put little faith in naïve attempts to engineer social change in Appalachia -- attempts they suggest are based on dubious cultural assumptions and misconceived strategies. This study of one region in one nation can be a model for the study of similar patterns of change elsewhere.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6524-0
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Modernization: A Case Study
    (pp. 1-16)

    The two decades following World War II witnessed an unflagging concern with the development of economically backward nations and depressed areas within highly developed nations. With these concerns has come an intensification of activities in the various social sciences that directs attention increasingly toward people, whether as direct human-resource inputs into productive processes, as transmitters of information and attitudes conducive to change and modernization, or as carriers of attitudes that dampen or block such processes. These developments have touched everyone of the traditional social science disciplines and have also given rise to essentially new interdisciplinary specializations—among them “regional science,”...

  5. CHAPTER 2 The Interstitial Persons
    (pp. 17-25)

    Our task is to explore the potential of the Kentucky mountain elites for the performance of cultural-bridge roles in the development of the area and its people. The essentials in carrying out this task are: (1) the identification of groups in which such potential may be found; (2) the collection of evidence indicative of the intensity of exposure within these groups to experiences and influences from outside the mountains; (3) the classification of individuals according to the extent of their involvement with youth and their participation in political or civic community activities; and (4) the measurement of understanding about the...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The Social Mobilization of Mountain Elites
    (pp. 26-39)

    The cumulative involvement of individuals and sectors of a population in common understandings and in enterprises that transcend primary-group identification or other sectional interests is an important notion for this study, as it is for much of the literature on communication and social change.¹ These processes of involvement can be viewed at both aggregate and individual levels. They begin in childhood with experiences and training that affect the range of roles and of social participation of an individual in adult life. By virtue of our initial selection of occupations to be sampled, and by our delineations of the age, education,...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Attitudes toward Tradition & Change
    (pp. 40-55)

    The preceding two chapters might be viewed as presenting a crude map of “information fields” through which mountain elites, as interstitial persons, could receive and transmit attitudes and influences conducive to change. But these intermediaries could also communicate antichange influences. The measures of exposure of elites to information and ideas from “outside,” the extent and kinds of activities that connect them to mountain youth, and their involvement in community discussions and activities are the components of the communication nexus that has been portrayed. But to infer the nature and direction of the influences they exert from information about exposure and...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Mountain Elites: Resources for Modernization?
    (pp. 56-75)

    Modernization may be viewed as a process involving an interplay of values, experiential knowledge, and socially mobilized behavior. Evidently that process will move most smoothly and rapidly when the men who are best informed and most experienced and who carry attitudes most conducive to modernization are also active participants in political, civic, and youth affairs of the local society. Turning this around: if those who have most influence in the public affairs of mountain society and who are most closely, involved with local youth have narrow horizons and attitudes that resist change (or adjustment to the ongoing national life), the...

  9. CHAPTER 6 The Market of Ideas
    (pp. 76-82)

    Our survey project unexpectedly became something of a market of ideas as a result of the relatively abundant comments that the mountain respondents wrote, at only slight prompting, on a final blank page of the questionnaire. This bonus of some 37,000 words of information about our respondents and their communities we have transcribed and analyzed in some considerable detail. The principal features of this analysis are reported here for the interesting light that it throws upon other interpretations of mountain culture and change, including the more objective findings of the research reported elsewhere in this volume.

    Overall more than a...

  10. CHAPTER 7 The Social Dynamics of Modernization: The Appalachian Kentucky Case
    (pp. 83-94)

    The approach to the study of modernization that we have followed has entailed an analytical framework in which convergent approaches to resource development, communication and cultural diffusion, and social mobilization are built into the concepts of the “interstitial person” and the “cultural-bridge function.” In reviewing here the principal empirical findings of the research, we will be assessing also the heuristic value of the analytical constructs we have proposed. Even where the research interest is highly particularized, as indeed is much discussion of Appalachian problems, this need not obscure wider pragmatic and theoretical implications. The fate of the millions of people...

  11. Tables
    (pp. 95-156)
  12. Appendix A The ESLS Questionnaire
    (pp. 157-163)
  13. APPENDIX B The TC Questionnaire
    (pp. 164-167)
  14. APPENDIX C Attitude Factor Scores & Their Correlates
    (pp. 168-200)
  15. Index
    (pp. 201-204)