MSU sociologist receives national book award

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Contact: Sarah Nicholas

Margaret A. Hagerman (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State sociologist is the recipient of a national award for her groundbreaking book on how children perceive racial inequality.

Assistant Professor of Sociology Margaret A. Hagerman is receiving the 2019 William J. Goode Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s Family Section for her 2018 New York University Press work, “White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America.” 

This August, Hagerman will attend the ASA annual meeting in New York City where she will accept the award given annually to a research-based book published on the sociological study of families.

“I was genuinely shocked when I received word that I had won this award, and I feel incredibly grateful to receive this honor from my colleagues,” Hagerman said. 

“To receive this prestigious award validates my scholarly efforts and the intellectual work that went into this book, which is very meaningful to me. Awards like these really bring attention to the writing of books in the field of sociology rather than journal articles alone, which I think is important because books matter,” she added.

Hagerman’s 280-page publication details a two-year research period in which she conducted in-depth interviews and ethnographic observations with affluent white children and their families to observe how they make sense of privilege, race, unequal educational opportunities and police violence. The ensuing dialogues provided Hagerman a basis to examine the role children and families play in the reproduction of racism and racial inequality in America.

“Dr. Hagerman is a prolific qualitative sociologist who is changing the ways that we think about racial socialization in the family,” said Nicole Rader, professor and head of MSU’s Department of Sociology. “We share the ASA’s great respect for her book.” 

Hagerman’s work also is a finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award given by the Society for the Study of Social Problems and considered one of the most “prestigious and coveted awards” in the social sciences. Hagerman’s achievement will be recognized this August in New York at the society’s annual meeting, not affiliated with the ASA meeting.

“One of the challenges I faced in writing ‘White Kids’ was figuring out how to communicate with multiple intended audiences,” Hagerman said. “On the one hand, I wanted to write in a way that would offer new theoretical and empirical contributions to both sociological and interdisciplinary scholarly debates about white racial socialization processes. On the other hand, I wanted to write a book that non-sociologists might be willing to actually pick up and read.”

Since the book’s release, Hagerman said she has had the opportunity to engage with parents, educators and community leaders across the country who have found the work accessible and useful.

“It has helped them think differently about parenting, teaching and working with young people,” she said.

The ASA Family Section encourages “the understanding of family structures and practices, of differences between and within families and of those social institutions and forces—race, class, and gender; the economy, culture, social movements, the law, and demographic trends—that shape families or are shaped by them.”

Hagerman’s research also has been recognized in national and international media outlets, including The Atlantic, Los Angeles Times, Time, Inside Higher Ed, National Public Radio’s Marketplace, Libération, and The Guardian.

In 2018, the MSU President’s Commission on the Status of Minorities presented Hagerman with an MSU Diversity Award. She also received the 2016 Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award from the university’s Department of Sociology. She recently was elected to serve a three-year term as an executive committee member of the Southern Sociological Society.

A native of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Hagerman earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in sociology from Lehigh University, as well as a Ph.D. in sociology from Emory University. She holds a faculty affiliate in MSU’s African American Studies and Gender Studies programs.

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,300 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. Complete details about the College of Arts and Sciences or the sociology department can be found at www.cas.msstate.edu or www.sociology.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.  



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