Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Robert E. Jones

Committee Members

David L. Feldman, Asafa Jalata, Paul Gellert


This thesis examines the social and ecological problems associated with mountaintop mining in central Appalachia. Theoretical insights from world system theorists and other political economists are used to trace the roots of these problems to the historical progression of different modes of extraction in the region. The restructuring of the region’s social, cultural, and ecological systems to meet the needs of core production over time has perpetuated its position as a resource extractive periphery. This occurred in three major modes: a frontier mode, an agricultural mode, and an industrial raw materials mode. The last mode has been characterized primarily by coal mining and has shifted from labor intensive forms to capital intensive forms. The role different classes of actors have played and continue to play is discussed. Finally, key processes are summarized and conclusions offered.

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Sociology Commons