This article analyzes the grassroots efforts of the working and unemployed poor of three Appalachian communities to improve their towns ' devastated economy in an era of rapid economic change and globalization. While all three were beset by plant closings, their forms of political mobilization, both before and after the shutdown, differed. Each group of workers mounted a communitywide campaign designed to convince the company to stay, to induce local government action, to receive pay and benefits due, and to influence state legislation and economic development policy. Mobilization in the wake of a plant closing is rather extraordinary, especially in isolated, low-income rural areas. Why did it occur in these communities, and what were its consequences for the participants and for the state? First, each group's ultimate failure to influence an economic outcome and policy reveals the grim prospects for meaningful local democratic politics in a global economy. But second, the mobilization in two of the three cases succeeded in transforming the participants and the local community.



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