Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Rader, Nicole E.

Committee Member

Cossman, Jeralynn S.

Committee Member

Hughey, Matthew W.

Committee Member

Irizarry, Yasmiyn

Committee Member

Kelly, Kimberly C.

Other Advisors or Committee Members

Brunsma, David L.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Sociology


The current study builds on previous work that examines the factors that influence whether individuals adopt a multiracial identity. The key contribution of this study to the growing literature is the use of cultural sociological concepts to study multiracial identities from an alternative perspective. In addition to examining how individuals’ personal experiences affect how they racially identify, the current study also examines whether the adoption of a particular racial identity shapes the way individuals behave. Specifically, I explore how racial identification influences whether individuals become involved with a multiracial organization. Data were collected through two qualitative methods, semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 34 self-identified multiracial individuals and participatory action research conducted with the multiracial organization Community for Multiracial Action (CMA). The following research questions were addressed in this project: 1) what experiences have led individuals to currently identify as multiracial; 2) what personal factors compel individuals to engage in identity-related behaviors – specifically, why do some individuals decide to join a multiracial organization while others decline; 3) does becoming a part of a multiracial organization reinforce and/or challenge the individuals’ personal identity choices or understandings of multiraciality; and 4) are the behaviors and actions of multiracials, individually and/or collectively, performed in an effort to support a particular self-defined racial identity? Results support previous research which established that personal factors, socialization practices, and social networks, among others, influence racial identity development among multiracial individuals. With respect to the decision to participate in a multiracial organization, results indicate that differential rates of involvement are affected by racial identification. The national organization and the local chapter struggled over defining and projecting a cohesive image of multiraciality which negatively affected the sustainability of the local chapter. Findings from this study can be used to better understand the role of multiracial communities in identity development.