Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

MaryEllen Thompson

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Second Advisor

Doris Pierce

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Third Advisor

Geela Spira


This pilot ethnographic study describes the behaviors and values among the members of a central Appalachian folk-dancing community. The participants were four women, three adults and one teenager, each of whom were long-standing members of the community. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and participant observation, as the principal researcher had been a member of this community for 12 years at the time of the study. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, coded, and subjected to cross-case analysis. Codes informed categories, from which emerged two overarching themes regarding values held by this community: hospitality and human connection. Hospitality encompassed practices related to acceptance and inclusion and making people feel comfortable. Human connection illuminated practices that foster building relationships and connecting across boundaries. The findings supported folk dance as an occupation that serves as a tool to help bring people together across boundaries and build community.