Relationship Narratives: Appalachian Women's Experiences with Familial Process of Reentry

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


The reentry process post incarceration has been identified to be difficult in the most ideal of situations and family support has been shown to be nearly essential to avoid re-incarceration (Bahr, Armstrong, Gibbs, Harris and Fisher, 2005; Visher and Travis, 2003). This study is a first attempt to delve into the nature of relationships between women in Appalachia specifically, and their male relative who is a formerly incarcerated person. Informed by an intersectional feminist framework and symbolic interactionism, this study interviews eight women who reported maintaining a relationship with a male relative who had been incarcerated and reported assisting in his reentry process, in effort to extract the essence of daily lived experience in the context of multiple identities and social locations. A feminist phenomenological approach based on Husserl's philosophy and van Manen's method was utilized, whereby the researcher employed bracketing prior to further data investigation and analysis, in attempt to distill the distinct experiences of these unheard women. Key findings included two prominent themes, and one overall essence of the lived experience of women interviewed. The essence of women's lived experience in Appalachia within the context of reentry is that family is everything, and exists at the center and above all else. Subsumed within this lived experience were the themes of family traditions, or how things are done in Appalachia, and the meaning of incarceration to these women.



Reentry, Appalachia, Phenomenology