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Life-Affirming Leadership: An Inquiry into the Culture of Social Justice

2008, Ph.D., Antioch University, Leadership and Change.
A new paradigm for leading social change is emerging; a worldview acknowledging the importance of leadership that is life-affirming and lasts over time. The current inquiry explored the ways in which the social reality of Life-Affirming Leadership is created and the implications those realities have for the current and future generations of social justice workers, their organizations, and the communities in which they work. The dominant paradigm for social justice work needs to be radically renovated (see Horwitz, 2002; James, 2005; Ohlson, 2006; Polansky, 2005; Utne, 2006; Wheatley, 2005; Williamson, 1997; Yáhzí, 2005); as such, a re-evolution is in progress, born from the yearning for revitalization, and through the act of a conscious decision for transformation. The current study was an inquiry into the experience of social justice leaders who embody Life-Affirming Leadership in their personal and professional lives. In a general sense, this study is influenced and shaped by the inquiry approaches of Mindful Inquiry (Bentz & Shapiro, 1998), Decolonizing Inquiry (Tuhiwai Smith, 1999), and the bricolage method via Kincheloe (2001, 2005). Using the qualitative approach of hermeneutic phenomenology, a deeper understanding was gained about the experience of social justice leaders transforming the culture of social justice work. In interviews, social justice workers described the essence of Life-Affirming Leadership through their lived experiences. The interviews, in a video format, are directly accessible while reading this document and require Adobe Reader 9.0. Additional methodological expressions included an autoethnography of my own experience as an advocate and supporter of social justice workers. For those interested in learning more about Life-Affirming Leadership and the cultural transformation of social justice leadership, a blog describing my inspiration for this inquiry and insights gained are available at http://22ndcenturyleadership.blogspot.com/ This blog site includes links to video recordings of the interviewees. My hope is that this inquiry adds value to the practical and spiritual discourse of social change work and the field of leadership and organization development. The electronic version of this dissertation is at OhioLink ETD Center, www.ohiolink.edu/etd.
Carolyn Kenny, PhD (Committee Chair)
Elizabeth Holloway, PhD (Committee Member)
Shana Hormann, PhD (Committee Member)
Jonathan Reams, PhD (Other)
168 p.

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Gutierrez, R. (2008). Life-Affirming Leadership: An Inquiry into the Culture of Social Justice. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Gutierrez, Raquel. "Life-Affirming Leadership: An Inquiry into the Culture of Social Justice." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Antioch University, 2008. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 30 Jun 2015.

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Gutierrez, Raquel "Life-Affirming Leadership: An Inquiry into the Culture of Social Justice." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Antioch University, 2008. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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