The Household Survival Strategies of Manufacturing Workers Displaced in Henry County and the New River Valley, 1990-2010
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In this dissertation, I use interview data to answer three questions concerning the deindustrialization of southwest and southside Virginia. First, how have Radford City, Montgomery County, Pulaski County, the City of Martinsville and Henry County been affected by plant closures and mass layoffs at the community level? Second, how have displaced workers and their households been affected by this loss of manufacturing jobs? And third, what survival strategies have displaced workers and their households employed as a result of being displaced? In carrying out this research, I engage with four theoretical discussions: (1) deindustrialization of the US South, (2) the impact of deindustrialization on local communities and economies, (3) the impacts of deindustrialization on workers, and (4) workers' strategies for coping with job loss. I argue that the strategies employed are influenced, shaped, and/ or constrained by regional resources, family structure, and previous experience(s) with job loss due to plant closures and layoffs. The findings from this research suggest that household survival strategies are based on four influential or motivating factors: (1) the presence of a spouse and/or children in the home, (2) having prior experience with being displaced, (3) use of personal networks, and (4) utilization of spouses' knowledge, skills, and abilities. At the community level, there are two major findings. First, there is a level of resilience in the worst affected communities that keeps them moving forward, if at a slower pace than desired. Second, deindustrialization does not affect all manufacturing communities the same way. Local economic profiles, local resources, and past ties to manufacturing matter both in the severity of impacts and the options for rebounding and/ or creating new economic identities. For these reasons and others, it is suggested that future research continue to focus on individual communities and localities which are working to identify good long term solutions to address changes due to large scale economic disruption.
- Doctoral Dissertations