“Dealing with Over 400 Years of Hurt”: Creating Lines of Flight to Address Moral Agency



Carmouche, Colette

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This thesis is about underrepresented employees speaking and being heard in a large bureaucratic organization. Constrictive master narratives on what it means to be an employee have challenged the ability for underrepresented employees to speak and be heard. The role and importance of narratives is explored through narrative theory. Organizational theory, power, and race are also explored to understand how these dynamics might impact narrative processes. Critical Narrative Theory (CNT) is used to understand how employees story their experiences of being underrepresented employees in the organization. Additionally, CNT is applied to the traditional conflict resolution practice of dialogue to intervene on the narratives being shared by the employees to support them in constructing stories that re-cast them as moral agents. Using John Winslade’s “lines of flight” approach, the stories from the employees are analyzed to understand how they assign power and how they might break free of this positioning. Lines of flight are identified in their narrative statements that allow openings for the employees to describe themselves in new ways as moral agents. By using aesthetic ethics, the researcher supported the employees in thickening their descriptions of themselves as having more possibilities to act within the organization. This thesis resulted in the employees taking the initial steps necessary to speak and be heard and institutionalized the process of speaking through a “diversity dictionary” project.



Narrative, Conflict resolution, Dialogue, Organizations, Race, Critical theory