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Sensing Class: Religion, Aesthetics, And Formations Of Class In The Eastern Kentucky Coal Fields

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Chapter Summary

This chapter describes the exploration of religion and class formation in the eastern Kentucky coal fields. More specifically, it focuses on how the senses and aesthetics through which class and religion are experienced relate to the process of identity formation. Rather than two reified variables (religion and class), this chapter understands these terms as emergent, contested, dynamic, and thoroughly intertwined as people make social distinctions in concrete social settings, produce and reproduce ways of life, and orient themselves to forces and powers (whether natural or supernatural) that impact their worlds. There have emerged some more sophisticated treatments of religion and class that insist that central Appalachia cannot be understood without a firm grasp of the history of its modern economic development, which rather abruptly transformed out of a substantially subsistence-oriented economy with the incursion of capitalist industry at the end of the nineteenth century.

Keywords: central Appalachia; class formation; eastern Kentucky coal fields; industrialization; religion



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