Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Lynda Ann Ewen

Second Advisor

Richard Garnett

Third Advisor

Kenneth Ambrose

Fourth Advisor

Leonard J. Deutsch


This thesis is a critical response to Kai Erikson’s depiction of Appalachian culture in his book, Everything In Its Path. I also survey associated writers such as Jack Weller and others. Erikson’s traditional “Culture of Poverty” model frames the research questions by “blaming the victim”. Everything In Its Path is written in a vacuum, without historical continuity. The questions that Erikson (following Welier) employs in his research methodology are poor cause and effect description in which Erikson blames the Appalachian culture for its societal differences. Erikson glosses over the social dynamics and socio-economic history of the Appalachian region. Furthermore, the culture of poverty model does not account for geopolitical factors. The colonial approach addresses the structural factors; however, world systems analysis expands on the colonial model by placing geopolitical factors within a historical continuum. Erikson, Weller and associated writers paint the picture that the Appalachian culture could not adapt to their versions of modern American culture.


Weller, Jack E. – Criticism and interpretation.

Appalachian Region – Social conditions.