Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Meredith Redlin


critical race theory, immigration, language, social stratification


This project explores the mechanisms of exclusion and oppression of a Haitian population in a rural community in South West Florida. The analytical approach taken is an analysis of the social field and habitus as dispositions and embodied culture. Language has been identified as a tool to marginalize the population in the general social order. Through this process, language operates as a form of color-blind racism which justifies the exclusion of the Haitian community but is insufficient in explaining their overall social outcomes. Qualitative data were collected for this project in the form of unstructured interviews, focus groups, photographs of the local community, and observational field notes. Participants principally came from the Haitian population in the target community. Other community stakeholders, including elected county officials, were interviewed to obtain background and contextual information. Also consulted were county documents and demographic planning profiles. Secondary data were used for the quantitative analysis portion of this project. These data were taken from the US Census Bureau American Community Survey. Both aggregated data from the American Factfinder website and individual-level data from the IPUMS repository were downloaded in the completion of the secondary data analysis. The findings indicate that the habitus of the social field operates to exclude the Haitian population from the overall community in the areas of labor, health care, education, services, and local governance. In each of these arenas, language was cited as being a primary source of exclusion and problem for the Haitian population. Popular conceptions that the Haitian population needs to “learn English” in order to improve their status in the overall social structure were problematized as inferential testing indicated that proficiency in English is not a significant explanation for poverty status.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Haitian Americans -- Florida.
Marginality, Social.
Creole dialects, French -- Haiti.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 178-186)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright