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How discourses cast airport security characters: a discourse tracing and qualitative analysis of identity and emotional performances

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Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and subsequent creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), airport security has become an increasingly invasive, cumbersome, and expensive process. Fraught with tension

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and subsequent creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), airport security has become an increasingly invasive, cumbersome, and expensive process. Fraught with tension and discomfort, "airport security" is a dirty phrase in the popular imagination, synonymous with long lines, unimpressive employees, and indignity. In fact, the TSA and its employees have featured as topic and punch line of news and popular culture stories. This image complicates the TSA's mission to ensure the nation's air travel safety and the ways that its officers interact with passengers. Every day, nearly two million people fly domestically in the United States. Each passenger must interact with many of the approximately 50,000 agents in airports. How employees and travelers make sense of interactions in airport security contexts can have significant implications for individual wellbeing, personal and professional relationships, and organizational policies and practices. Furthermore, the meaning making of travelers and employees is complexly connected to broad social discourses and issues of identity. In this study, I focus on the communication implications of identity and emotional performances in airport security in light of discourses at macro, meso, and micro levels. Using discourse tracing (LeGreco & Tracy, 2009), I construct the historical and discursive landscape of airport security, and via participant observation and various types of interviews, demonstrate how officers and passengers develop and perform identity, and the resulting interactional consequences. My analysis suggests that passengers and Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) perform three main types of identities in airport security contexts--what I call Stereotypical, Ideal, and Mindful--which reflect different types and levels of discourse. Identity performances are intricately related to emotional processes and occur dynamically, in relation to the identity and emotional performances of others. Theoretical implications direct attention to the ways that identity and emotional performances structure interactions, cause burdensome emotion management, and present organizational actors with tension, contradiction, and paradox to manage. Practical implications suggest consideration of passenger and TSO emotional wellbeing, policy framing, passenger agency, and preferred identities. Methodologically, this dissertation offers insight into discourse tracing and challenges of embodied "undercover" research in public spaces.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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From Zero Tolerance to Restorative Justice: Implementing Restorative Justice in a High School System

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Implementation of large-scale initiatives within educational systems can present many challenges, particularly when the initiative is non-linear and relies on deep understanding rooted in a restorative mindset. This study examined

Implementation of large-scale initiatives within educational systems can present many challenges, particularly when the initiative is non-linear and relies on deep understanding rooted in a restorative mindset. This study examined implementation of restorative justice within one large, primarily urban school district in the United States. Through a mixed methods approach, data was collected from three personnel levels of the organization: district leadership, school leadership, and school staff members and applied a sensemaking framework to examine the flow of information and understanding within and among organizational levels. To accomplish this investigation, both qualitative and quantitative data were collected. First, interview data was collected from district and school level leaders to inform supportive leadership actions and organizational structures and also to understand challenges that leaders faced when working to implement restorative justice within a district and across a school campus. Next, school staff members participated in a survey to provide deeper understanding regarding their confidence in implementing restorative justice practices, their perceptions of school and district level administrative support, and the alignment of their beliefs and actions with tenets of restorative justice. Finally, results were analyzed and compared across levels of the organization to provide a summary of findings and recommendations for ongoing and expanded implementation at the school at the focus of the study and across other schools within the district.

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  • 2020

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Emotion cycles, sensegiving, and sensebreaking in the municipal courtroom

Description

Municipal courtrooms are brimming with a variety of positive and negative emotions from defendants who are primarily encountering the criminal justice system for the first time. Municipal court judges and

Municipal courtrooms are brimming with a variety of positive and negative emotions from defendants who are primarily encountering the criminal justice system for the first time. Municipal court judges and bailiffs must work together and find ways to communicate important information about courtroom processes to up to 70-120 defendants a day. This dissertation investigates how municipal court judges and bailiffs from two municipal courthouses respond to three organizational challenges associated with emotion--defendant confusion about courtroom processes, handling high caseloads while treating defendants as customers of the court, and managing the serious and tedious emotional moods of the courtroom environment. Using qualitative methods of observation and informal and formal interviews, this dissertation analyzes how emotion cycles between judges and bailiffs help give sense to and break sense of defendants while simultaneously helping them navigate the challenges of their work. Findings detail the nature of work in municipal court--explaining the challenges associated with emotion that judges and bailiffs face on a daily basis. The data also describes the emotional roles that judges and bailiffs employ in the courtroom. The judges' emotional roles include tension relievers, order enforcers, and care takers. Bailiffs' emotional roles comprise rule enforcers, toxin handlers, and do gooders. The heart of the analysis explores how judges and bailiffs give sense to defendants when unexpected situations manifest in the courtroom and break sense of defendants who hold incorrect or less favored beliefs about courtroom procedures. The emotional displays and responses of judges, bailiffs, primary defendants (defendants before the judge), and third party defendants (those watching in the audience) enable sensegiving and sensebreaking to occur. The emotion cycles allow courtroom staff to impact the sensemaking process of defendants in a fast and efficient manner. Theoretical implications include extensions of emotion cycle research through a consideration of the displays and responses of primary agents, intermediate agents, and primary recipients of emotional displays. Practical implications describe how specific training practices and space for employee discussion could enhance the workplace wellness of judges and bailiffs.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Teachers as Designers: Epistemic Diversity and Sensemaking Amidst Indeterminacy

Description

In this three-article dissertation, I explore what it means for teachers to be designers in three different ways. Each article can stand on its own, but taken together, they paint

In this three-article dissertation, I explore what it means for teachers to be designers in three different ways. Each article can stand on its own, but taken together, they paint a rich and nuanced picture of the relationship between teachers and design. The first article is an analysis of a decade of literature on teachers and design seeking to answer the question, “What does it mean for a teacher to be described as a designer, or for the act of teaching to be considered an act of design?” The analysis combined an interpretive content analysis of central terms and constructs with a network analysis of co-authorship and citation practices. The results highlighted 10 strands of literature around teachers and design, each describing a different perspective on what, how, when, and why teachers design.
The second article focuses on a design-based professional development (PD) program I conducted with four teachers in a rural junior high school. The program was designed to support teachers in approaching problems of practice in designerly ways, including exploring problems using various epistemic perspectives. Using an embedded case analysis approach, I found that although each teacher interpreted the program differently, all described outcomes related to coming to know in new ways, developing a deeper understanding of students, and being impacted at a personal level. These outcomes could be interpreted as a type of sensemaking, where teachers came to re-interpret the past and present in ways that allowed them to shape the future. Sensemaking was supported through epistemic diversity and the acts of framing common in design practice.

The third article is a scholarly essay arguing that the PD program and its implementation suggest design is not only about creating things but is also about seeing and addressing the indeterminacy inherent in complex situations of practice. Designers interact with this indeterminacy through imposing a frame on the situation and interpreting the results. When teachers are designers, they are empowered to integrate their personal and professional selves with the design situation, all while maintaining a form of skeptical optimism within complex and shifting contexts.

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Date Created
  • 2021