Existential Sociology: A Strategy Of Intervention, A Role And The Paradigm

Date of Award


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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


The contribution of this dissertation is to describe in some detail first, how the strategies of social change emerge from the context of organizational activity, and second, how the mediating sociologist enabler role comes to be defined and refined in this context. Third, it describes the paradigm which makes the role work, i.e., which motivates and energizes it. The dissertation, therefore, analyzes a process of intervention, a role and a paradigm.The intervention strategy described in Chapter II was developed over a seven-year period when the author was a young adult program consultant for the National YWCA. It involved a sequence which included identifying specific ways in which an organization limited the human potential of its subordinate participants. Then dialogical processes were used to bring about a self-consciousness of these human issues by the subordinates. The change agent simultaneously attempted to work within the organization to facilitate an openness to change by means of an unfreezing of certain key aspects of its structure. The change process was interpreted to both the super- and sub-ordinates as it was occurring and the change agent mediated, dialectically, between the two groups. Finally, the organization's restructuring was solidified so that gains were not lost.The change agent's role, referred to as that of stimulator sociologist, was subsequently tested in another action situation and studied over a one-year period. The role expectations may be summarized as requiring open identification with the people committed to introducing social change, a grounding in and ability to synthesize a wide range of theory as it becomes relevant to group goals, the ability to conceptualize different definitions of reality, a listening stance so as to maintain analytic objectivity, use of autobiographical analysis and the processes of contextualization, application of adult education skills, knowledge of a broad range of traditional social research skills, and the ability to use management tools and organizational processes.Finally, the paradigm which provides the philosophical grounding of the stimulator sociologist role is analyzed in Chapter IV. The paradigm is stated as three interrelated postulates: human life has potential; human life involves change; humans are social beings. The special concepts used to describe both the emergent strategy and the stimulator sociologist role are discussed in the context of the paradigm.


Sociology, Theory and Methods

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