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Appalachia and America

Appalachia and America: Autonomy and Regional Dependence

Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Appalachia and America
    Book Description:

    In this collection of fourteen essays, scholars of Appalachian culture and society examine how the people contend with and adapt to the pressures of change thrust upon them.Appalachia and Americawill appeal to a broad range of people interested in the southern mountains or in the policy issues of social welfare. It deals cogently with the newest form of conflict affecting not only communities in Appalachia, but urban and rural communities in America at large -- the struggle for local values and ways of life in the face of distant and powerful bureaucracies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6201-0
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Allen Batteau
  4. Introduction: The Transformation of Dependency
    (pp. 1-13)

    In the hundred years since Appalachia was discovered by the American public as a distinctive entity, the question that has recurrently presented itself is that of the identity of Appalachia and the explanation of a regional culture that was “in but not of” America. In every discovery and rediscovery of Appalachia, the currently fashionable social theories are invoked for the purpose of explaining this identity: Theories of degeneration, “retarded frontiers,” racial devolution, environmental determinism, exploitation, cultures of poverty, and internal colonialism have all been used as the “basic” cause of Appalachian “otherness.” In some publications one finds an insistence on...

  5. Decorating the Appalachian House
    (pp. 14-27)

    The desire for decoration in folk architecture is frequently expressed by the inclusion of such decorative devices as Gothic trim, Greek revival returns, decorated cornices, beaded siding, and wainscot. None alter the structural strength of the building but they do help add a sense of visual pleasure to the necessity of providing shelter. In parts of Appalachia, particularly eastern Kentucky, these visual reliefs were rarely present in folk housing, perhaps because the aesthetics of a well-shaped hewn log, often two feet high, twenty feet long, and carefully thinned with an axe and adz to a uniform six-inch width, may have...

  6. Family Group Organization in a Cumberland Mountain Neighborhood
    (pp. 28-47)

    The “top of the mountain,”¹ a small rural neighborhood in which I conducted research in 1974–75 and the summer of 1976, comprises fifty-one households situated on and about three ledges or “flats” near the summit of one of the Cumberland Mountains in East Tennessee. With the exception of a family of four who recently moved to the mountain from Virginia, all of the neighborhood’s 198 residents are related, and people make much of this fact in remarking upon their social world. They are fond of explaining, for example, that “We’re all at least a little bit kin,” that “We’re...

  7. Studying Religious Belief Systems in Their Social Historical Context
    (pp. 48-67)

    Students of Appalachia primarily have been concerned with the function of religion as a social institution within the greater Appalachian society. These functional interpretations of religion have many dimensions, ranging from descriptions of a socially and/or psychologically functional religion to a socially and/or psychologically dysfunctional one.¹ Considering the numerous contributions to this body of literature, one might assume that substantial insight has been gained into the nature of religion in Appalachia. However, these numerous contributions are narrowly concerned with the role of religion in society, and less is known about religious belief and behavior than one might assume.

    Following Durkheim,...

  8. Religion and Class Consciousness in the Kanawha County School Textbook Controversy
    (pp. 68-85)

    A series of bitter, divisive, and persistent local conflicts concerning textbooks and school curricula have erupted throughout the Appalachian region over the last decade. Because these confrontations have sometimes escalated beyond the angry rhetoric of school board meetings into the frenzied behavior of book burnings and physical violence, they have attracted substantial media attention. Indeed, because the focus of these disputes has involved fundamental questions of what is moral, a supercharged emotional atmosphere has accompanied the textbook controversies. Consequently, the textbook controversies have been characterized as battles between the forces of enlightenment and modernity on the one hand, and the...

  9. The Image of Appalachian Poverty
    (pp. 86-110)

    There is little doubt that the term “Appalachia” is associated with poverty. In the 1960s the Johnson administration categorized Appalachia as a region of “grinding poverty.” Appalachia was in turn designated a frontier in the “war on poverty.” Literature on Appalachia abounds with statements about the region’s poverty. In theWashington Staran eleven-part series entitled “Poverty in Appalachia” was published in 1964.¹ The following statement appears in the foreword ofAppalachian Kentucky: An Exploited Region, “Appalachian Kentucky brings together the factors within the physical environment and the forces within the human geography which have created the conditions of backwardness...

  10. The Place of Culture and the Problem of Identity
    (pp. 111-141)

    The apothegm “know thyself,” despite its apparent clarity and long popularity, sounds better than it means. Whether we hear it from the ancients or the moderns, it lacks the operational specificity of such other and ancient prescriptive statements as “honor thy father and mother” or “thou shalt not kill.” And while it may be true nonetheless, as an assertion of the first obligation of the human consciousness, it does not help us to know who we are or tell us what we should do once we find out. Nor does it tell us about the nature either of self-knowledge or...

  11. Rituals of Dependence in Appalachian Kentucky
    (pp. 142-167)

    In the past twenty years, two contrasting orientations have dominated discussions of the problems of poverty and underdevelopment in Appalachia. One orientation, viewing the region’s poverty as a matter of underdevelopment or dependent development, finds the structural causes most basic. In this view, it is the lack of capital, lack of infrastructure, or economic dependence on outside industry and capital that keep Appalachia underdeveloped. The alternative orientation, usually associated with theories of “provincialism” or a “culture of poverty,” finds the personal causes more basic; in this view, either the poor need to be taught new attitudes so that they can...

  12. Appalachian Innovation in Health Care
    (pp. 168-188)

    Judging from media presentations and literature on the subject, central Appalachia is a region of contradictions. It is a region rich in minerals with people in poverty; a rural area with landless people; and metaphorically, a region of darkness at dawn.¹ It should not be surprising, then, if an examination of health care in the central Appalachian region also reveals contradictions. In fact, health manpower shortages, infant mortality rates above the national level, and other indices of poor health² exist within a region that has hosted some of the most significant attempts at health care reform in this country. Nurse...

  13. Health Care: The City versus the Migrant
    (pp. 189-209)

    The Appalachian region has suffered from heavy emigration almost continually during the last half century, drawing young people away from the mountain communities and augmenting the economic stagnation resulting from the decline of the coal and timber industries and the growing insufficiency of the family farm in an era of commercialized agriculture. Those natives who left the predominantly rural areas of the region for the large industrial urban centers that encircle the Appalachian mountains have invariably encountered a broad spectrum of problems in adjusting to the urban world and the new lifestyle it imposes. The research reported upon in this...

  14. Lower Price Hill’s Children: Family, School, and Neighborhood
    (pp. 210-226)

    The skills and abilities adults exhibit in their lives comprise a set of resources developed in several contexts including the family, school, and neighborhood. Most children in our society develop and mature in all three contexts. However, the nature and tone of these settings varies depending upon such features as region, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and other features associated with urban as opposed to rural or suburban residence.

    In this chapter the focus is upon urban Appalachian children growing up in a diversity of settings having multiple, and at times conflicting influences. The major purpose in this chapter is to describe...

  15. Experiences of In-Migrants in Appalachia
    (pp. 227-238)

    Things are changing in Appalachia, and rapidly. Areas once overlooked because of their remoteness are now the focus of considerable attention—by prospective developers as well as people who are discontented with urban (or suburban) living. No longer is the rugged terrain regarded as a drawback. Instead it is part of the appeal the region holds for outsiders.

    With this change in image has come a change in population. People are moving to Appalachia in ever greater numbers, to the extent that those who move in more than compensate for the number of those leaving.¹ In effect, not only is...

  16. Frontier Culture, Government Agents, and City Folks
    (pp. 239-251)

    It has been only quite recently that forest managers, particularly many in the USDA Forest Service, have recognized a need to focus social science research on communities contained within the boundaries of forests as an important factor in many forest management decisions. In this approach, the research effort is directed toward an analysis of communities, located in or near forests, as organisms and functioning social systems in themselves. This focuson the communityreplaces the older, more traditional focus of researchon a specific problem(e.g., vandalism of recreation areas, incendiary activities, overuse of facilities). The value of this newer...

  17. Participatory Research on Land Ownership in Rural Appalachia
    (pp. 252-266)

    The Appalachian region of the United States is a region of contrasts: great poverty, lack of local control over local institutions and development processes, and high rates of emigration of the young exist in the midst of vast wealth of natural resources, great economic development potential, and wealth of scenic beauty. Although antipoverty programs, efforts of citizens groups, and regional social and educational institutions have tried to address the problems of extreme poverty, lack of or poor quality of public services, health services, housing, and abuse of the environment, a major stumbling block to social change is the ownership of...

  18. Conflict, Confrontation, and Social Change in the Regional Setting
    (pp. 267-284)

    The previous chapters have discussed the Appalachian region, its people and resources and how they have been affected and sometimes afflicted by the forces and trends in the nation that surrounds the region. Here we will suggest a systematic means for understanding ongoing relations, struggles, and processes in this, or any other, region in change.

    Appalachia has been viewed in a variety of contexts: as a “deficient,” regressive culture within a progressive industrial nation,¹ as a colony of and for outside capital,² as a myth invented by the larger American society for its own aggrandizement,³ as an internal periphery maintained...

  19. Contributors
    (pp. 285-286)