Women, Development, and Communities for Empowerment in Appalachia

By Virginia Rinaldo Seitz

Subjects: Social Movements
Series: SUNY series in Gender and Society
Paperback : 9780791423783, 288 pages, May 1995
Hardcover : 9780791423776, 288 pages, May 1995

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Table of contents


1. Introduction

A Story of Gender and Social Change
The Research Project
The Setting
Listening to Appalachian Women
Working Definitions of Central Concepts:




Gender and Development Planning

2. Methodology

Putting Away the Master's Tools
The Feminist Standpoint and Women's Life Stories
A Feminist Research Process
Interviewing Women
Data Collection and Analysis
Issues of Reliability and Validity
Reporting Conventions

3. Family

The Discreet and Lesser Sphere
Why Women Act
The Intimacies of Place
Just Like a Family
Our Kids, Our Lives, Our Union
The Dark Side of Family Life
Childhood: No Time for Innocence
The Danger of Being Female
Teaching the Ideology of Gender
Marriage: Nobody to Love Me
With Every Blow
Marriage: A Good Calm Life

4. Work

Reverberating Spheres
The Labor of Mothers as Daughters
Going Out to Work
Schooled to Sew
They Went Over to Vending
So Good at Doing You That Way
Coalminer Daughters
Making Ends Meet
It's Not the Factory

5. Community

The Inessential Appalachian
The Failure of Local Institutions
Trouble with the Doctor
Listen to my Pain
They Don't Have to Live It
It's Hard to Know
Trying to be With the Law
Politics as Usual
Go Home and Make Cookies
To be an Outsider in the School
The Same God of Love
Strategic Essentialism: Nobody Was Different
The Appropriation of Symbols: We All Love the Flag Over Here
Resisting Rutabagas and Rights

6. Creating Communities for Development and Change

The Gender Equity Support Group


She Voiced What I Felt


An Income-Generating Cooperative


And Then I Sew


Public Work
Coal Employment Project


Just a Couple of Women


7. Class, Gender and Resistance in the Coalfields; The Family Auxiliary

We Could Do a Whole Lot Down Here!
It Really Put the Radical In Us
It Keeps on Growing and Growing
For All the Other People
We Want to Pass it Along
The Biggest and Best People's Organization

8. Community Development Empowerment: Dungannon Development Commission and Ivanhoe Civic League

Dungannon Development Commission


The Taste of Success
A Cooperative Sewing Industry
It was Hot!
The Failure of Success
That Way is Not What We're Talking About!


Ivanhoe Civic League


I've Never Seen Anything Like This
Building Bridges
Reversals in Learning
Planning Our Destiny
Creative Misbehavior: Using Outsiders for Mutual Benefit
From the Practical to the Strategic'


9. Alternative Visions

Trickle-up Revolutions
Divergent Understandings
Women's Communities
Gender Planning for Empowerment
Building a Change


An examination of the class and gender conditions of working-class women in the coal mining fields reveals how they struggled for development and change and how the struggle sometimes lead to empowerment.


This book is an examination of gender and social change in the coalfields and nearby areas of Southwest Virginia from the standpoint of working-class Appalachia women. Through intensive life history interviews and participant observation, the author explores women's lives within the spheres of family, work, and community, and how women have changed through participating in grassroots community development, income-generation, labor, and support groups. Grounded in feminist theory, the work offers insights into collective action, empowerment, and development in the United States, and relates these issues to international "women in development" scholarship and practice.

Virginia Rinaldo Seitz is Visiting Assistant Professor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


"This book is a wonderful feminist exploration of a topic not often explored in the feminist literature—working class women in an isolated, rural setting. It pulls together a complex web of perspectives and avoids what is commonly a 'colonizing discourse' on the topic. The Women in Development literature is effectively applied, as is feminist theory (particularly socialist feminism). Major critiques/clarifications are provided of such works as Marx's analysis of capitalism and Buvinic's analysis of community organization. Taking the perspective of these women turns much of our conventional thinking on its head. "— Anne Statham, University of Wisconsin-Parkside

"The author has produced an excellent study of gender and social change. She has also broadened the audience and impact of the study by comparing the Appalachian region to peripheral zones in developing countries, and drawing heavily (and usefully) on the women and development literature. I also like the methodology. It is an excellent use of in-depth, qualitative life history interviews. The interviews speak strongly and are skillfully woven together around key themes and analysis. " — John Gaventa, University of Tennessee