James N. Maples
Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work
Eastern Kentucky is a region experiencing several social problems, such as poverty and addiction. This study looks to examine why college-aged Powell County residents might decide not to return to Powell County after graduation versus how long term residents stay and how these relate to place. Examining a sample of Powell County resident interviews, this study looks at some of the differences between how long term residents and younger college aged residents understand Powell County as a place. Using oral history interviews with Powell County residents, this study finds that college-aged residents of Powell County are not returning due to a lack of jobs, a history of addiction in the region and in their families, and a lack of future opportunities. Much consideration must be given to improve the conditions, in places such as Powell County, or how to improve the opportunities of people leaving economically and culturally distressed areas. Two possible outcomes that could improve the conditions are limitation of drug problems and job growth in the community. Additionally, creating a program to let the younger Powell residents know of opportunities outside of the county and to help them get started on leaving or making a better future for themselves or those younger than them.