Life-Span Developmental Psychology: Intergenerational Relations

By Nancy Datan; Anita L. Greene et al. | Go to book overview

4 Family and Community Networks in Appalachia

Dean Rodeheaver University of Wisconsin -- Green Bay

Jeanne L. Thomas University of Wisconsin-Parkside


FAMILY AND COMMUNITY NETWORKS IN
APPALACHIA

This chapter began as an exchange of the authors' experiences in conducting exploratory research in Appalachia, as well as of impressions of Appalachian culture. A common theme emerged from this exchange. In the studies described here, respondents related experiences in intergenerational networks that reflected both stability and change across generations. The same themes were apparent in considering Appalachia: although the region has changed -- particularly within the last century -- there are enduring cultural features. In this chapter, a survey of these regional historical changes and constant cultural themes provides a context for discussion of two studies of West Virginia elders and their family and community networks.


HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS OF THE CULTURE

Those who write about the current ethos of Southern Appalachia suggest that we consider the character of the people who first saw the mountains as a refuge ( Weller, 1965). One term useful in describing these individuals is rejection: "Instead of the hymn-singing pilgrim, we must start with the cynical, the penniless, the resentful and the angry" ( Caudill, 1962, p. 6). Among the early mountaineers was a group of people who recognized no authority other than

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