Hacker and Roberts open with what for me is a very prescient idea, the idea of victim-blaming in an organization, and indeed in most Western modern societies, rather than looking for solutions and rising to challenges that can teach one to be stronger. Their John Stewart Mill quote speaks to current events in government that always seem to be current no matter the year, the decade, or the century, “A state which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes–will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished.” What have we wrought when each of our mind-sets chain us to ideas of a past and a present that we cannot, nay refuse to (r)evolvolve from? Mind sets are formulated from life experiences, yes, as Hacker and Roberts indicate, but those same life experiences can force an individual to realize that change is necessary when it prohibits growth.
Yes, some mind-sets cannot be changed because people refuse to change but others are ready to change, forcing it, fearing it but welcoming it, or seeking it. Transformational leadership can and will exploit people in within their evolutionary stage to benefit the organization and the individuals involved, understand where each individual is, and what is best for that individual. Hacker and Roberts indicate the above and four additional mind-sets that inhibit growth, individuals concerned with self-image, the self-absorbed, and the detached and emphasize what is needed to jump start each individual’s evolutionary growth. The process reminds me of the positive affirmations that I do each morning before meditation to start my day.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I also belong to an educational academy called IndividualEvolution.org that is devoted to individual change through interdisciplinary studies via the focusing lens of sociology to challenge the dichotomy faced by individual and collective bureaucratic life. While I may be growing away from this organization in light of my devotion to (r)evolutionary growth, I can see parallels of the evolutionary in participatory action research, feminist psychology and the ideas of Hacker and Roberts. They routinely assess growth, skills, evolution, and personal growth, all viewed through the lens of collective leadership that becomes transformational leadership. While I am excited about the possibility of transforming organizations to see them grow and evolve, my realistic assessment of most corporate organizations (non-profits and for-profits) is that they are too caught up in perpetuating the status quo, hiring the lowest common denominator to pay the least salary, to achieve the most immediate profit. I will remain as optimistic as I possibly can but my experience and intuition tells me that any evolutionary or (r)evolutionary change that is perceived as good will happen elsewhere but not in the United States.
Empowerment. That is what I see in Lykes, Blanche, & Hamber’s Narrating survival and change in Guatemala and South Africa. Empowerment is embedded in the research and photography-recording techniques taught to the participants to better understand their personal experiences and the wider experiences of their community. Beyond the empowerment of the processing of individual and collective trauma was and is the empowerment of the activist within each of the victims to transcend their tragedies to petition their government for redress utilizing the legal language and protocol that only their governments would recognize. While this isn’t an ends in itself, it is a means to an end, the end being on-going activism that places the tools into the hands of those most affected to affect change locally, regionally, and sometimes, nationally, and internationally.
Hershbert and Lykes’ Redefining family: Transnational girls narrate experiences of parental migration, detention, and deportation reveals the obvious stress, strain, and legal pressures placed upon immigrants but it also reveals some of the ridiculous measures that the United States government goes through to maintain it’s control over people’s lives by asserting it’s authority to deport someone for being “illegal”. The young girls that the authors interviewed are extremely worldly wise due to the experience of transnational migration and the regular encounters with the representatives of the US government.
What is and is not surprising that should not be surprising to most US citizens at this point is the contrary bias and favouritism/reverse sexism shown to men versus women and their status as children or mothers versus their male relatives who are merely “illegal” workers. There is no information that indicates that the children or mothers are questioned regarding their working status. This seems sadly typical, stereotypically sexist and unfair for families attempting to survive and thrive in an immigrant country. However, the possibility of research from a participatory action perspective where the participants actively engage in the research process is exciting on so many levels that I am hopeful for the future of human beings and what all of us can do to effect change, even in the shadow of bureaucracy.
Hacker, S. & Roberts, T (2004). Transformational leadership. Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press.
Lykes, M. B., Blanche, M. T. & Hamber, B. (2003). Narrating survival and change in Guatemala and South Africa : The politics of representation and a liberatory community psychology. American Journal of Community Psychology, 31, 79-90.
Hershbert, R. M. & Lykes, M. B. (2013). Redefining family: Transnational girls narrate experiences of parental migration, detention, and deportation. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14, 1,