Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Social Work

First Advisor

Enid O. Cox, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Susan Manning

Third Advisor

Lynn Parker

Fourth Advisor

Jean East


Appalachia, Globalization, Rural, Social capital, Social support networks


Social networks and capital often sustain community and individual survival. This phenomenological study was designed to illuminate the experience of job loss within the context of globalization, describing the phenomenon from the perspective of rural women and its meaning for those participants. Using a phenomenological approach, this qualitative study explored eight rural women in Appalachian Kentucky who had experienced apparel factory layoffs as a result of global outsourcing. A modified form of van Kaam's method (Moustakas, 1994) was used for phenomenological analysis of the data. Data were analyzed using an eight-step technique to identify essential characteristics of rural women's lived experiences and to discover "what" attitudes ex-factory workers had toward job loss and "how" social support networks were developed. A description of the experience and its meaning was developed from the five salient themes that emerged. These major themes include impact of job layoffs; emotional effects of a shuttered plant; rural resiliency; social support networks at the individual, family, and community level; and cultural challenges to social support networks. Findings of the study suggest participants perceived their cultural values and heritage as an important resource toward creating viable socioeconomic pathways and by providing a psychological buffer against stress. Implications for social work practice, research and education, and policy were discussed.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Jennifer Lanham


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

119 p.


Social Work, Social Structure

Included in

Social Work Commons