Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in American Studies (MAST)


Interdisciplinary Studies

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Hill

Second Advisor

Dr. Matthew Mitchelson


This thesis reveals how perceptions of crime produce real outcomes in how Forsyth County is policed by the local sheriff’s office and how the residents come to police themselves and each other. Using historical analysis and ethnographic methods, this thesis explores the county’s racial history and shifts in political economy that shape perceptions of crime and their subsequent influence on policing amid decreasing crime rates. It is argued that the forceful removal of all African American residents in 1912, the economic shift away from an agriculture and poultry-based industry, the construction of Lake Lanier and Buford Dam, the staggered expansion of Georgia State Route 400, and the maintenance of a majority white population through time all factor into how residents of the county perceive crime in terms of race and place. Perceptions of crime in Forsyth County underlie the ways in which residents collectively act against crime and vote for elected officials who pander to these perceptions, producing real outcomes in the way the county is placed. This thesis illuminates the ways in which policing occurs in an area undergoing suburbanization, which is often understudied in Critical Police and Prison Studies.