Southern identity

Orville Vernon Burton, Anderson R. Rouse

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter considers the significance of the idea of southern identity, it can be surprisingly difficult to describe. Southern identity is based on the perception of shared characteristics, rather than inherent similarities, and, like other identities, is based on an individual's decision to be a part of a social group. The development of a distinct southern identity did not fully begin until the early nineteenth century. The antebellum white southern identity was both compensatory and oppositional, providing a bucolic and idealized alternative to the increasingly materialistic American identity, while challenging the ideals of the American republic. Antebellum white southern identity was inextricably linked to slavery, which provided the mythic ideal of an oppositional South. In the twentieth century, white southern identity became defined by opposition to outside criticism, stubborn commitment to a southern "way of life", and support of white male dominance, even as boosters promoted a New South unencumbered by the burdens of the past.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge History of the American South
EditorsMaggi M Morehouse
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781315768076
ISBN (Print)9781138784949, 9780367234683
StatePublished - Jul 20 2017
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameRoutledge Histories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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