Date of Award

Spring 4-24-2018

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science and International Affairs

Department Chair or Program Director

Kramer, John

First Advisor

Murphy, Chad

Second Advisor

Farnsworth, Stephen

Major or Concentration

Political Science


Appalachians are portrayed in the media and scholarship as politically fatalistic, but in reality the region has a rich history of non-traditional political action. Why are Appalachians portrayed this way, and what are they doing today to reclaim their agency? In this paper I examine the ways popular culture has shaped our understanding of Appalachia and Appalachians, as well as how we perceive them as political beings; I also briefly discuss the history of the treatment of Appalachians by coal companies. This paper also examines previous scholarship on political participation in Appalachia in order to provide context for the rest of the discussion. I conducted a probit regression to determine whether or not being from Appalachia has an impact on political participation and attitudes, specifically efficacy. Based on data from the 2016 ANES pre- and post-election survey, I concluded that being from Appalachia is a significant determinant of certain political attitudes and actions. The paper concludes with a broad discussion of the types of political actions Appalachians take in the face of injustice, as well as how grassroots movements can, and should, add to our understanding of how marginalized groups make sense of their circumstances.