Date of Award

2018

Degree Name

Sociology

College

College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree

M.A.

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Dr. Kristi Fondren, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Maggie Stone

Third Advisor

Dr. Donna Sullivan

Abstract

Appalachia and those living within the region have been discussed, examined, critiqued, and defined primarily by those living outside of the area, particularly following the 2016 Election. The main narratives of Appalachia form a dichotomous view of the land and its people: beautiful landscapes threatened by resource extraction and a people wrecked by the symptoms of longterm poverty and economic stagnation. Simultaneously, the Appalachian identity has been constructed around a rugged or blue-collar male identity that excludes and makes invisible the female experience. This study seeks to break through the landscape and poverty binary, as well as the male-archetype, to explore the ways in which Appalachian women are strong, resilient, and capable on their own terms in their own voices. The overarching goal of this study is to explore strong womanhood in Appalachia. Specifically, this study aims to elevate the voices and stories of women in Appalachia, a population that is often ignored or made invisible in mainstream culture and discourse. This qualitative study also seeks to explore if Appalachian women align with the mainstream feminist movement. A purposive and snowball sample was interviewed across five counties in West Virginia with women across three generations. Women in West Virginia find strength within their culture and gender roles, but battle stigma and issues of inequality associated with low-pay within an economy that preferences male labor. Women in Appalachia also have a relationship with the land that predicates land preservations and sustainable use in order to facilitate subsistence agrarian strategies of living.

Subject(s)

Women -- Appalachian Region.

Appalachian Region -- Social conditions.

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