Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

David Cotter




n-word, intersectionality, stigmatizing labels, racial slurs, bigotry


The N-word’s remarkable durability, combined with American’s willingness to find uses for this epithet, illustrate the extent to which racial unease continues to permeate our culture. Its various definitions and spellings are continuously debated by academia, creating a dynamic topic for sociological evaluation. Overall, the N-word is alive and mobile, fluid and engraved in the American psyche, as a symbol. Some propose to condemn the word, while others attempt to rehabilitate and convert its meaning from a negative slur to a gesture of solidarity. The controversial debate of the N-word can be examined from multitudinous sociological theories, encompassing elements of conflict theory, symbolic interactionism, DuBois' "double-consciousness" and intersectionality. The purpose of this study is to examine the usage of the N-word as a clue toward comprehending the complexity of stratification in American community settings. The qualitative results of two focus groups and the quantitative data of a generic survey concludes that vectors of race, gender, socioeconomic status and age intersect, affecting the elimination, preservation or rehabilitation of the N-word.