Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Hagerman, Margaret Ann

Committee Member

Leap, Braden T.

Committee Member

Rader, Nicole E.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access



Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Sociology


In response to the national desegregation of schools from 1954-1976, white communities across the country formed segregationist academies to provide a privatized education to white children. In this study, I examined why parents in the rural South continue to choose these schools, as well as what this schooling environment means for the ‘comprehensive racial learning’ processes of its white, class-privileged student body. Drawing on 20 semi-structured interviews with parents who chose a segregationist academy in Mississippi as well as 20 interviews with children who attend this school, I found that parents justified their decision using racialized understandings of what constitutes a ‘good’ schooling environment. Additionally, this context of childhood directly influenced the kids’ perceptions of themselves as racial subjects, including the ways in which they justified their position in the reproduction of racial inequality. Overall, this study contributes to understandings of the ways that class privilege, rurality, and Christianity inform white identity formation and racial learning processes.