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Debating 'Hillbilly Elegy' and Working Class Decline

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The working class is in trouble - especially the part with roots in Appalachia.

In his best-selling memoir "Hillbilly Elegy," J.D. Vance tells how he escaped the chaos of his mother's drug abuse and serial boyfriends/husbands.

In an interview with "Inside Appalachia," Vance acknowledges the role de-industrialization plays in working-class decline. But he says cultural decline may be even more important.

"It's the fact that people are dying of heroin overdoses...it's the fact that families are breaking down, that more and more people are going to jail, and more and more people are not able to build a better life for themselves," Vance said.

And that, Vance says, is the main thrust of Donald Trump's appeal.

In this week's Front Porch podcast, we debate whether economics or culture is the main culprit behind the decline of working class families in Appalachia. Laurie Lin says it may be time to bring back good old-fashioned shame, but Rick Wilson is skeptical.

Subscribe to "The Front Porch" podcast on iTunes or however you listen to podcasts.

An edited version of “The Front Porch” airs Fridays at 4:50 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s radio network, and the full version is available above.

Share your opinions with us about these issues, and let us know what you'd like us to discuss in the future. Send a tweet to @radiofinn or @wvpublicnews, or e-mail Scott at sfinn @ wvpublic.org

The Front Porch is underwritten by The Charleston Gazette Mail, providing both sides of the story on its two editorial pages. Check it out: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/

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