Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

First Advisor

Troy Gibson, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Abstract

Mississippi is the last state in the United States to publicly display the confederate symbol as part of its state flag. In 2001, when given the chance to remove this symbol from its flag, voters in Mississippi supported this symbol by a vote of 2 to 1. Previous studies have documented the importance of race in the outcome of the 2001 referendum, but lack analysis of other potential influential factors specific to the state of Mississippi. This study examines the issue of the Mississippi state flag through a case study analysis using the ballot initiatives of Amendment 1 in 2004, the constitutional ban on gay marriage, and Initiative 26 in 2011, known as the “personhood amendment”. This study finds that Mississippi voters make use of traditional social conservatism and symbolic voting on social ballot initiatives, and this may explain why the state supported the confederate symbol in 2001 despite its problematic nature. This study helps to further understand Mississippi political culture, and the unique case of the Mississippi flag in the context of 21st century American and Southern politics.

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