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Appalachian Values/American Values PART IV by Jim Wayne Miller VI. THE TWO WORLDS OF APPALACHIA . . global changes can sweep through a small community and yet not touch all parts equally. —John B. Stephenson, Shiloh Stephenson's four family types are distinguished according to how they blend diese traditional value themes (inherited culture) with situational demands of the present. His Type I families are members of the stable working middle and upper class mentioned by Looff; they are most closely attuned to outside ways, to what would be considered typical American middle class values. His Type IVs are the least committed to modern life; they are "for the most part immersed in the traditional sub-culture." Type II and III families are the most ambivalent. A blend of both the modern and the traditional, "they are off-spring of a marriage between two ways of life, a marriage whose vows are irrevocable but whose state is not always blissful."1 While Type I families are hardly to be distinguished from typical modern American families in other parts of the country, and Type IVs have been least touched by the modern world, Type II and III families are in a process of transition from the traditional to the modern. Values of Type II families are closer to the modern, while Type IH's "appear to be living under two flags, accepting and rejecting parts of both." 2 So Stephenson and Rodman's distinction between cultural and situational demands introduces a complexity and variety into the picture of Appalachia and is a much needed corrective. Too many portraits of Appalachia convey what Stephenson calls "an impression of singularity,"^ the impression that all individuals and classes hold to the same values with the same degree of tenacity. Stephenson demonstrates that values are held with different degrees of commitment by different social and economic classes; that some values change quickly, others more slowly or not at all; that men and women assign different priorities to the same values. We see, for instance , that changes in patterns of consumption may occur rather swiftly. The way people dress, the food they eat, the entertainment they seek out may change, but political views may remain little altered. A man may want to buy a new truck or a boat while his wife would like to have indoor plumbing. Or both man and wife may 23 buy a new car and keep the old-time religion or continue to vote the same way. There are subtler changes brought about by increased awareness of the outside world. A man may give up total dependence on farming, not because the farm no longer produces, but because what he considers acceptable as a living and a life has changed. Or he may go on "public work" yet retain a traditional time orientation, so that his work record for a number of years is a series of periods of employment broken with regular off-times during which he hunts or fishes or loafs. We are now moving into an area of nuance and degree of emphasis and away from the simplistic model of the subculture or folk culture seen as walled off from the dominant culture. The protracted physical isolation of Appalachia seemed to suggest the model of a folk culture separate and distinct from the dominant culture; actually, it never was an accurate model, for, as Stephenson points out: There have long been strains in mountain society, especially in more heavily populated areas such as the county seats, which were highly sympathetic with, if not actually expressive of, societal patterns in the outside world.4 George M. Foster, in his analysis of folk culture, suggests that this situation is not peculiar to Appalachia but is the rule regarding the relationship of any folk culture to a main or national culture. Foster examines folk culture from the standpoint of its content and relationship to the dominant culture. Instead of viewing the folk culture as opposed to the dominant culture, and inevitably disappearing before urban onslaught, Foster sees the folk culture always dependent upon the dominant culture, for ... a folk society is not a whole society, an isolate, in itself. It is a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5081
Print ISSN
0363-2318
Pages
pp. 23-34
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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