City of Man, Episode 27: Hillbilly Elegy

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Along with special guests Jordan Poss and Danny Anderson from the Sectarian Review, Coyle and Ed discuss Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance’s highly lauded memoir about growing up in the Appalachian white working class. Vance offers and honest portrait of the virtues and pathologies of the fraying white working class, and an interesting commentary on class and culture in the United States. The crew talks about the history (and mythology?) of the Scots-Irish in the United States, honor cultures and violence, class distinctions within the white working class, the extent to which these social pathologies are the result of “culture”

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2 comments
TristanS
TristanS

A really good episode. As a Canadian, I am always a little surprised by discussions of the Scotch Irish in the US. Scots and Irish Protestants have arguably been the most important ethnic groups in Canada. If you read our history, you constantly come across names like Fraser, Douglas, Macdonald, Mackenzie, McClung, etc. Toronto was known as the "Belfast of Canada" because the Orange Order had so much influence there. My own family includes Sharps and McConnells (distant kin of Mitch?) from Ulster. Yet Canada is not generally known for its violent honour culture, which would suggest that the "Scotch Irish" ethnic inheritance is malleable given different social and political structures.

Coyle
Coyle

@TristanS Thanks for the comment, and sorry for the slow reply--we don't check this blog as often as we probably should. 

I admit I know nothing about Canada, but I suspect that you're right that the "violent honor culture" is more of a regional thing than an exclusively Scots-Irish thing. At least, the Scots-Irish I grew up among didn't have such a culture...