Sociology 511


SOCY 511

Catalog Entry
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisite:  Graduate standing.

Contemporary Appalachian culture; social science explanations of regional culture; causes and repercussions of culture change in Appalachia are examined.  

Detailed Description of Content of the Course
The content may include:

I. The concept of culture and social science perspectives.  
II. Is a unique Appalachian subculture extant?

A. Describing Appalachian culture

    1. Economic structure

        a. adaptive strategies: hunting/gathering, horticulture/agriculture, lumber, mines, other industry
        b. correlates of adaptive strategy

            1) style of work: non-routinized/routinized
            2) mode of production: mode of production for use/mode of production for exchange
            3) orientation toward time: past/present/future
            4) orientation toward land: land as "place"/land as "property"

    2. Social organization

        a. kinship structure

            1) the nuclear family and the extended kin network
                2) household composition

        b. settlement and community: peer group conformity vs. individualism
        c. social stratification

            1) Is the community egalitarian?
            2) Does "more urban" equal “higher status"?
    3. Religion and cosmology

         a. fundamentalism
         b. lineal and non-lineal (non-discursive or intuitive) modes of thought

B. Stereotypes and caricature of "Mountain People"

    1. Individualism
    2. Fatalism
    3. Otherworldliness
    4. Traditionalism

C. Analyzing Inconsistencies

D. Analyzing the "uniqueness" of Appalachian culture

    1. Explanatory models

        a. Toennies' Gemeinschaft/Gesellschaft
        b. Cooley's primary/secondary groups
        c. Parson's "pattern variables"
        d. Durkheim's mechanical/organic solidarity
        e. Redfield's folk/urban continuum
        f. Gans' person/object orientation

    2. Do the models fit rural cultures around the world?

        a. cross-cultural perspective on rural/urban differences
        b. Do the models fit Appalachia?

III. Explaining the nature of Appalachian culture

A. Culture as epiphenomenon

    1. the environmental determinism approach to Appalachian culture
    2. the technological determinism approach
    3. the "culture of poverty" model
    4. the social structural approach (internal colonialism, class model, metropolis/satellite model)

B. Culture as basic structure

    1. the cognitive approach (ethnoscience)
    2. the structuralist approach

IV. Culture change in Appalachia--Post World War II

A. Change in economic structure

B. Change in social organization

C. Change in religion and world view

D. What has remained unchanging?

V. Discovering and rediscovering Appalachian culture

A. Discovery of Appalachia in social science

B. The Appalachian "Myth" as an expression of bipolar strains in American culture

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

A lecture/discussion and in-class writing approach is used, which encourages students to exchange information about their own respective cultural backgrounds and their perceptions of Appalachian and non-Appalachian cultures.

Goals and Objectives of Course

Students will be introduced to the cultures of the Appalachian region of which Radford University is a part.  Having successfully completed this course, students will:
        have knowledge of the diversity of cultures within the Appalachian region;
        exercise critical thinking to understand the cultures of the Appalachian region as cultural systems with both internal integrity and external influences; and
        be able to analyze the importance of the environment in understanding Appalachian cultures and their current conditions.

Assessment Measures

Graded and checked assignments may include in-class or take-home examinations and quizzes, homework assignments, in-class writing, and in-class discussions. Journals may be required and checked periodically. Formal oral presentations may be required.  If the course is taught as a dual-listed course with SOCY 411 Appalachian Cultures, the SOCY 511 students may be required to undertake a class project that would be presented to the class and perhaps in other venues.  

Other Course Information

Review and Approval
February 2009, Dr. Paula Brush, Chair, Department of Sociology