Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Miles Anthony Irving, Ph.D. - Chair

Second Advisor

Joyce E. King, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Susan Crim McClendon, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Daphne Greenberg, Ph.D.

Fifth Advisor

Rhina Fernandes Williams, Ph.D.


Education has proven to be a powerful tool. Higher education in particular has been and continues to be utilized in various ways around the world and has been instrumental in the rise of societies including Americo-Liberian society in Liberia, West Africa. This study investigates how education has been instrumental in the formation of identity for Americo-Liberians (descendants of historically oppressed groups), demonstrates the relationship that existed between education attainment and social stratification within their system, and uncovers the socialization process that existed within the Americo-Liberian system of education. A critical analysis of social structure and history was undertaken to demonstrate how a mythical norm and cultural capital were key in both the identity formation and destruction of the Americo-Liberian population in Liberia, West Africa. Other theoretical frameworks, in particular "othering" were utilized throughout this dissertation to further demonstrate the rise of Americo-Liberians through their employment of a mythical norm and cultural capital, which ultimately led to their demise. A historical case study method was utilized to uncover the cultural capital of the preferred upper class and political elite, known as Americo-Liberians, which was deeply embedded within their system of education. In all, the system that was set up to ensure their privilege led to their demise and the complete destruction of the country as a whole.