Reflections On Diaz’ A psychological framework for social justice praxis, Teo et al’ Philosophical reflexivity in social justice work, and Hacker & Roberts’ Transformational leadership Chapters 5 and 6

I see the potential for perpetual personal evolution and perhaps personal revolution within Diaz’s summary, “. . . a relational/empathy based concept of social justice provides us with an interpretation of social justice as the perpetual process of creating and recreating relationships of awareness, empathy, and empowerment.” I see this either as the direction that is needed by societies, current social evolution or I am projecting personal evolution and revolution that is occurring for me at the moment.  Nonetheless, for society to thrive and survive, perpetual social justice is vitally necessary.

In the discussion of procedural justice, Diaz asks a series of difficult but necessary questions to determine what is and what isn’t procedural and moral justice for the franchised and the disenfranchised. I was struck by the timeliness of such questions in relation to the inequality that surrounds me daily and by the recent US government greed, selfishness, and apathy without any desire for real justice over personal, self-inflicted revenge justice from so-called liberals and so-called conservatives.  I understand that the self is of highest importance in social interactions, and most individuals cannot see outside of themselves unless it is blatantly obvious and unless they can relate to the other.  I also believe that more relational justice needs to happen in order for the privileged to understand those that are not privileged on a more human level.  Perhaps privilege makes people apathetic or immune and perhaps relational justice and discussion will allow for better understanding on so many other levels. On a local level, I believe relational justice can be quite effective and possible if people remain open to others that are different and open to real personal justice rather than justice by the letter of the law.  But people must understand that suffering exists in everyone, that people must work together to achieve real evolutionary change in society.

I recall a previous discussion of restorative justice and after reading all of the examples throughout world history; I recall a time that I lived in Savannah where restorative justice was vitally necessary.  There was a shooting in the community and within a high school classroom where a student was shot and killed.  Sadly, the television news stations did nothing to encourage healing, the community protested that the children and teenagers had no after school programs and the result was that nothing was done.  Restorative justice, if I had known about it, would have been something that could have been considered to heal this community.  Sadly, less than a year later, another high school student was shot and killed in the classroom, and other such incidents at schools around the country have tragically occurred since that time.

Within sociology, the emphasis seems to be on little interaction and little involvement in the lives of the subjects studied to effect any real change.  The emphasis seems to be on studies and reporting results only.  However, increasingly in psychology, especially in community and feminist psychology, I am increasingly seeing social justice activism where studies are of as much vital importance as empowering the subjects of the studies, “the Other,” to effect personal and community change within their immediate lives.  Within, “Philosophical Reflexivity in Social Justice Work,” Teo et al discuss this at length as a concept that is long overdue as the other articles in this new volume certainly will discuss.

While reflexivity is certainly important and necessary to reflect upon ideas and concepts in order to understand the past and the present, too much reflexivity will breed nothing productive, and social justice and social change will remain dormant dreams.  At the same time, involvement can also breed an attitude of educated superiority and “Other”/subject inferiority in the eyes of the researcher and its effect on the subject.  Recalling the earlier incident at the television station, I realize now, and I realized then, that I was too connected and emotionally invested in the community up to a point that the objective apathy of the television station news staff was extremely aggravating.  It was obvious that some other form of activism, involvement, and study by the local universities and the local government to determine an ongoing solution was sorely needed. Even with a mayor of color, the so-called white minority of the city or the existing public, civic, or religious power structure did nothing.

Hacker and Roberts, while primarily discussing corporate transformational leadership, allow for the application of change agents in the non-profit and social worlds that could have been and would have been sorely needed in Savannah during the above crisis to solve a much larger problem that continued after I moved away.  I confess that I have been reading chapters 5 and 6 with the questions of whether I am a good manager, a good leader, or both.  I confess that I may not be a good manager, but I am probably a good leader on some level.  However, I believe with the right training and learning most can become good managers and good leaders if they have the vision to look forward rather than looking to only protect their territory with shortsightedness and fear.

While Hacker and Roberts indicate that one can be a good manager without being a good leader, one cannot be a good leader without being a good manager.  When our class tackles the focus groups that are vital and necessary for the local community in and around Carrollton, GA to survive and thrive, we must envision more than just the immediate sphere of the end of this study and the goals of Tanner, if possible.  A proactive future must be envisioned where everyone is a teacher, everyone is a student, everyone is a leader, and everyone is a manager of their future and their health.  So if some have managerial skills and some have leadership skills, those must be utilized and exploited for the benefit of the community.  Those that don’t are not going to be left by the wayside, but they must learn the skills necessary to manage, lead, transform, and evolve.

Hacker and Roberts wrote more than a textbook or manual.  They have written a transformational guidebook. And while I would encourage everyone to read it and use it to individually evolve and revolve, I must emphasize the qualities necessary for a manager cum leader because these are important elements of the book and important elements of individual evolution.  Managers need to see beyond their cubicles, beyond there sandboxes.  They must obviously administrate and perform, but they must also analyze their environment as energetically as possible. As leaders, transformational managers must be able to do all of this and be able to bridge across ideas, departments and inter- and intracommunities to build those communities, to empower individuals, to envision and create an evolutionary future.  In spite of the corporate bias of the book (which I am obviously opposed to), there is value in such  book to transform communities, to transform groups, to transform individuals, and it might even transform governments if they weren’t so large and if they actually cared about helping people rather than just themselves.

 

Sources:

Diaz, J. (In press).  A psychological framework for social justice praxisIn C. Johnson, H. Friedman,  J. Diaz, Z. Franco & B.Nastasi (Eds.)  Social justice and psychology, Vol. 1 ##-##.  Westport, CT, Praeger Publishers.

Teo, T., Gao, Z. & Sheivari, (In press).  Philosophical reflexivity in social justice work.  In C. Johnson, H. Friedman,  J. Diaz, Z. Franco & B.Nastasi (Eds.)  Social justice and psychology, Vol. 1 ##-##.  Westport, CT, Praeger Publishers.

Hacker, S. & Roberts, T (2004).  Transformational leadership.  Milwaukee, WI:  ASQ Quality Press.

 

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