Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Kathryn Borman Ph.D.

Committee Member

Angela C. Stuesse, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kevin Yelvington, D.Phil


Acquisition, Category, Census, Ethnicity, Power



Where do we get our ideas about the concept of `race'? The conceptualization of `race' has long been a topic of interest in the social sciences and society in general. The word `race' has been used and defined in different ways and different purposes throughout U.S. history. The definition of `race' therefore is arbitrary, changing according to the situation, but the consequences of how the word `race' is used are concrete and effect peoples lives daily. This research, in accord with much of the literature on the topic, shows that public schools play a major role in the conceptualization of `race'. Furthermore, what children are learning about `race;' in schools is not in an academic fashion but rather through inferences by the media, textbooks, and interactions with friends, teachers and school staff. I have conducted both qualitative (semi-structured interviews) and quantitative (questionnaires) research in order to explore where young adults say that they began to conceptualize `Race'. The results show that public schools, the home and neighborhoods of the young adults are the places that have influenced their `racial' conceptualization the most. I posit that we should provide the most up to date, accurate and pedagogically appropriate information as possible in public schools to aid our children in their process the conceptualization of the concept of `race'.