Marginality in Appalachian professional women

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1986
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Abstract

This research examined a sample of first generation professional women from the Appalachian region with the goal of description and exploration of issues related to their professional lives. Data from 20 intensive interviews were organized around an expanded version of Park's (1928) concept of marginality which yielded three major foci: (1) self definitions of marginality; (2) consequences of marginality; and (3) adaptive strategies of the marginal person.

A continuum conceptualization of marginality emerged from the data with four categories of self-definition: (1) essential marginality; (2) situational marginality; (3) occasional marginality; and (4) non-marginality. Three major types of consequences, social, professional, and personal were experienced; and adaptive strategies of the active intentional, reactive intentional and non-intentional types were employed by the subjects.

The data suggested possible relationships between type of job held-- especially whether in a male dominated field--and types as well as degree of marginality experienced. Also, degree of marginality appears to have some relationship to consequences experienced and, in turn, to adaptive strategies employed by subjects.

This research contributes to the literature by expanding the existing concept of marginality into a continuum and using this new conceptualization as a framework for the analysis of first generation professional women from the Appalachian region.

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