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Fighting King CoalThe Challenges to Micromobilization in Central Appalachia$
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Shannon Elizabeth Bell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034340

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034340.001.0001

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Cognitive Liberation, Cultural Manipulation, and Friends of Coal1

Cognitive Liberation, Cultural Manipulation, and Friends of Coal1

Chapter:
(p.89) 5 Cognitive Liberation, Cultural Manipulation, and Friends of Coal1
Source:
Fighting King Coal
Author(s):

Richard York

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262034340.003.0006

Chapter 5 examines the coal industry’s ideology-construction efforts in Central Appalachia and the ways in which this cultural manipulation impedes the process of consciousness transformation (or cognitive liberation) among coalfield citizens. The study presented in this chapter draws on participant observation data and content analysis to examine the ways in which the West Virginia coal industry uses a fake grassroots (or “astroturf”) organization called Friends of Coal to construct the image that West Virginia’s economy and cultural identity are centered on coal production. Through this campaign, and others like it, the coal industry aims to greenwash its destructive practices and to convince the public that being a “true Appalachian” means supporting the coal industry. This industry-created ideology poses yet another impediment to local people’s willingness to join the fight to hold the industry accountable for the environmental and social harms it inflicts on the region.

Keywords:   Ideology, Cultural manipulation, Consciousness transformation, Cognitive liberation, Participant observation, Content analysis, Friends of Coal, Astroturf organization, Coal industry, Central Appalachia

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