Powerlessness and Pollution in Alleghany County, Virginia: A Historical Analysis of Paternalism and Economic Coercion in Appalachia and its Relationship with Environmental Degradation
Wrenn, Corey Lee
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Alleghany County, an extractive community, has depended heavily upon a single paper mill known as MeadWestvaco for over a century. The purpose of this study is to explore the degree to which MeadWestvaco utilizes paternalism and economic coercion as forms of power to control and maintain community quiescence regarding the companyâ s negative environmental impact in Alleghany County. This paper mill has negatively affected Alleghany County relative to other Virginia communities. However, there has been very little local action against the paper millâ s environmental impact. To define and recognize paternalism and economic coercion, I undertake a historical analysis of the cotton textile industry of the Southern Piedmont and coal mining industry of Southern Appalachia, where these systems of power have been documented. In applying the indicators of paternalism and economic coercion found in these nearby Southern industries to Alleghany County, Virginia, I find that MeadWestvaco utilizes both strategies to some degree to control and influence community awareness of and response to the companyâ s environmental damage.
- Masters Theses