Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The United States is the world leader in incarceration. Mass incarceration does not affect all racial groups equally; research literature shows that people of color, but especially Black people in the working and lower classes, face the brunt of policing and incarceration in this country. In Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Black Middle Class and Mass Incarceration, I examine how mass incarceration affects those who are not poor by comparing and contrasting the experiences of middle-class White and Black respondents using data collected from focus groups and one-on-one interviews. Although Black and White respondents sometimes shared similar stories regarding family members who had been incarcerated, I show that their experiences are fundamentally different from each other because of how policing resources are politically distributed. I also show that middle-class Black respondents’ personal interactions with the police are significantly different from those of middle-class White respondents. I argue that middle-class Black people must contend with mass incarceration and policing practices that are distinct from poor Black people specifically and White people in general.

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