Date of Project


Document Type

Honors Thesis

School Name

College of Arts and Sciences



Major Advisor

Dr. Ainsley Lambert-Swain

Second Advisor

Dr. Frank Hutchins


When we hear the word “Appalachian”, many will look towards the countless examples of negative stereotypes displayed in the media. From Hillbilly Elegy to hyperbolized stories of blue people in the mountains, Appalachians have been perpetuated as backward, dirty, incestual, and stupid. Through incessant dehumanization by the media, Appalachian communities have been ignored and even blamed for their disparities. However, there are historical and social implications factors that stemmed from the major shift in the economic makeup that has led to Appalachian poverty and in turn, shaped the culture and values of the region. In addition, due to geographic isolation, family has become a central value and the most significant avenue for socialization within Appalachia: “family loyalty is so strong as to be almost pathological by modem urban middle class standards,” (Crissman, 1989). This project explores how familial socialization, gender expectations, and gendered labor impact the experience of family in Appalachia. Informed by both Gender and Cultural schema theory and utilizing focus groups and ethnographic methods, this project examines the familial experiences of a specific family in Eastern Kentucky. Appalachian narratives have a history of being manipulated and shared through an outsider’s lens. Ethnographic methods amplify and give agency back to those who have been stripped of such. The main objective of this project is to advocate for social change within Appalachia by sharing Appalachian experiences. This thesis is for and about Appalachia.