Social Capital, Solidarity, and Cohort Effect—An Analysis of the Production of Social Capital Among Union Members in Harlan County, Kentucky

Sponsor name: 
N/A
UK Department: 
Sociology
Duration: 
06/06/2011

In his MA thesis, Social Capital, Solidarity, and Cohort Effect—An Analysis of the Production of Social Capital Among Union Members in Harlan County, Kentucky , Feng Hao utilized a series of oral histories from the Appalachia Oral History Project, housed in the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at UK.  His paper won the $500 "Best Paper" prize at the 2011 Appalachian Research Community Symposium.

ABSTRACT OF THESIS

The coal industry exercises a pervasive influence on mining communities in Appalachia, even though it exerts enormous damages on the environment and makes limited contributions to employment and the advancement of the communities. One explanation for this paradox offered by Bell is a depletion of social capital among coalfield residents in Central Appalachia (2009).

Her data suggests that the “ripping away” of the region’s strong union identity lead to a resocialization, “from a ‘we’ mentality to an ‘I’ mentality, thus demising the store of social capital” (2009:655). My research aims to interpret how social capital resources among union miners was translated to solidarity in the mining community, and how the union generated social capital and fostered solidarity among miners and their families. This research finds that the union was both a creator and a preserver of social capital. The coalfield residents demonstrated a high degree of social capital and solidarity in terms of a sense of reliability, dedication to collective activities, and intimate extended networks.

Furthermore, the union’s strategies of holding regular meetings, organizing large-scale strikes, promoting collective identity, securing public benefits, and electing charismatic were of great significance for the production of both social capital and solidarity.

 

 

Please contact the following individual if you have any questions about this project: 
Feng Hao
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