The Transformation of Plantation Politics

Black Politics, Concentrated Poverty, and Social Capital in the Mississippi Delta

By Sharon D. Wright Austin

Subjects: African American Studies
Series: SUNY series in African American Studies
Paperback : 9780791468029, 266 pages, June 2007
Hardcover : 9780791468012, 266 pages, July 2006

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Part One: The Theoretical Framework

1. The Influence of Local Elites in the Mississippi Delta

Part Two: The Plantation Political and Economic Culture

2. The “Cotton-Obsessed, Negro-Obsessed” Delta Plantation Economy

3. Black Mobilization and Elite Resistance during the Height of Traditionalistic Plantation Political Rule

Part Three: The Transformation and Legacies of the Plantation Culture
4. The Transformation of the Delta’s Economy?: Legalized Gaming, Economic Change, and the Persistence of Black Concentrated Poverty

5. The Transformation of Delta Plantation Politics

6. Building Black and Intergroup Social Capital Ties in the Delta

Part Four: Lessons Learned
7. The Challenges of Using Social Capital to Combat Community Ills in the Mississippi Delta


Examines the political and economic changes of recent decades in the Mississippi Delta.


The Transformation of Plantation Politics explores the effects of black political exclusion, the sharecropping system, and white resistance on the Mississippi Delta's current economic and political situation. Sharon D. Wright Austin's extensive interviews with residents of the region shed light on the transformations and legacies of the Delta's political and economic institutions. While African Americans now hold most of the major political offices in the region and are no longer formally excluded from political participation, educational opportunities, or lucrative jobs, Wright Austin shows that white wealth and black poverty continue to be the norm partly because of the deeply entrenched legacies of the Delta's history. Contributing to a greater theoretical understanding of black political efforts, this book demonstrates a need for a strong level of black social capital, intergroup capital, financial capital, political capital, and a human capital of educated and skilled workers.

Sharon D. Wright Austin is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida and the author of Race, Power, and Political Emergence in Memphis.