Participation Type

Panel

Session Title

Session 4.09 Appalachia and Higher Education

Presentation #1 Title

Higher Education and Employment in Appalachia: An Interdisciplinary Study

Presentation #1 Abstract or Summary

This panel investigates the social, cultural, and linguistic influences on the Appalachian region’s relatively poor achievement in higher education using an interdisciplinary, multi-methods approach. Faculty and graduate students in the Sociology & Anthropology Department at Marshall University designed a project, through dialogue with Marshall’s administrative departments, that employs qualitative ethnographic and quantitative sociological methods to query the legitimacy of Appalachia’s supposed exceptionalism, which positions Appalachia as an anomaly – culturally, politically, and economically – within the United States (Satterwhite 2013). The project asks, on the other hand, to what degree Appalachia fits within a broader culture of poverty model (e.g., Billings 1974) and thus follows economic and social trends within the U.S. rather than geographical ones. Faculty and students conducted surveys, interviews, and participant-observation among educators, employers, students, and members of the workforce to examine the (under)valuing of higher education in the region, and the extent to which obtaining post-secondary degrees indeed contributes to economic growth, as many national studies have argued (e.g., Hanushek & Woessmann 2012). In combining both micro- and macro-level perspectives, this project augments existing data regarding the marginalization of Appalachia within the national economy and the region’s low rate of attendance and retention in institutions of higher education (Haaga 2004). It sheds light on the ideological and cultural underpinnings of such trends, including “working-class” ideals that include “resistance to school” (Hendrickson 2012), economic rationalization, and heavy dependence on local family and friendship networks (Wallace 2000).

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #1

Dr. Conley is Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Marshall University. Her research and teaching focus on linguistic and legal anthropology, the death penalty, and language and gender.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #2

Dr. Fondren is Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Marshall University. Her research and teaching interests focus on gender, culture, the environment, social inequality, social psychology, and sports/leisure/recreation.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #3

Dr. Laubach is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Chair in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Marshall University. His research generally focuses on religion and the workplace.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #4

Dr. Sullivan is a specialist in Social Gerontology. She has extensive teaching experience in social aspects of aging, family studies, dying, death and bereavement, sociology of mass media, and contemporary social problems and her research interests include productive activities in aging, older workers, gender & aging, seniors and the internet, and family caregivers.

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COinS
 
Mar 28th, 3:30 PM Mar 28th, 4:45 PM

Higher Education and Employment in Appalachia: An Interdisciplinary Study

Drinko Library 138

This panel investigates the social, cultural, and linguistic influences on the Appalachian region’s relatively poor achievement in higher education using an interdisciplinary, multi-methods approach. Faculty and graduate students in the Sociology & Anthropology Department at Marshall University designed a project, through dialogue with Marshall’s administrative departments, that employs qualitative ethnographic and quantitative sociological methods to query the legitimacy of Appalachia’s supposed exceptionalism, which positions Appalachia as an anomaly – culturally, politically, and economically – within the United States (Satterwhite 2013). The project asks, on the other hand, to what degree Appalachia fits within a broader culture of poverty model (e.g., Billings 1974) and thus follows economic and social trends within the U.S. rather than geographical ones. Faculty and students conducted surveys, interviews, and participant-observation among educators, employers, students, and members of the workforce to examine the (under)valuing of higher education in the region, and the extent to which obtaining post-secondary degrees indeed contributes to economic growth, as many national studies have argued (e.g., Hanushek & Woessmann 2012). In combining both micro- and macro-level perspectives, this project augments existing data regarding the marginalization of Appalachia within the national economy and the region’s low rate of attendance and retention in institutions of higher education (Haaga 2004). It sheds light on the ideological and cultural underpinnings of such trends, including “working-class” ideals that include “resistance to school” (Hendrickson 2012), economic rationalization, and heavy dependence on local family and friendship networks (Wallace 2000).