• Literacy, Status, Narrative Representation

    Posted on February 2nd, 2014 msmith88 No comments

    In Powell’s “Literacy, Status, Narrative Representation,” there was a large focus on the how a specific community of people of a “higher status,” government officials, perceive another community of people who are considered to have a “lower status,” Appalachia residents. Many of the Appalachia residents’ stereotypes and identities were based upon literacy. It almost was as if literacy became a tool for defining their identities—mountain residents were not considered the “right kind” of white. According to government officials and other communities, these people lack education and need help from people who thought they knew how to provide it for them. Overall, the article really shows how the “myth of the mountaineer” completely misrepresents the entire group of Appalachia residents.

    An interesting finding that is present in Powell’s work is how the letters reflect both the government officials and mountain residents’ status. For example, most of the letters written by Appalachia residents were handwritten on notepad paper. Also, they were written in pencil; however, their writing seemed to show a lack of education. On the other hand, government officials were typed on a formal paper with a letterhead and its content showed authority. This finding is important to the idea that residents of Appalachia have been misrepresented. It is important to note that the act of writing a letter is one of social participation and an educated gesture. Maybe the letters did not have convincing content, but I think it’s crucial to know that these people are not completely helpless.

    As I think about this finding, I’m trying to figure out how exactly it relates to something in my life. Currently, I can relate this to how people see others who lack education as inferior or people of a lower status. In today’s world, society sees education as a crucial part to success. People are more concerned with money and status, which makes education an important focus for better opportunities. As a college student, I strive to do the best that I can in the field that will one day become my career. However, some people do not have the fortunate opportunity to attend college. This should not mean that somebody without a college degree is “inferior” within the workplace. It is possible that somebody who hasn’t attended college may have much more knowledge than somebody with a degree. This idea that a lack of education makes somebody inferior is something that our society has definitely made a misrepresentation about. In what other ways has our society molded misrepresentations? And why do most people believe them?

    A large part of my own identity is based upon my family’s values, especially my dad’s values. My dad came from what would be considered as a lower class family. He never went to college because my grandparents were unable to afford it, so my dad enlisted in the Navy when he finished high school. After he served our country, my dad began to make his own business in heating and air conditioning. For over thirty years now, my dad has owned a successful business. Without a college degree, my dad made something of himself, which really supports what I talked about earlier. He taught me to work hard, to remain optimistic, and to search for opportunities. My parents also raised me to have a strong faith in God, which is something that remains close to me. I believe that a lot of what makes up my identity is due to how I was raised as a child.