The social construction of whiteness: Teacher power, personhood and performance in the classroom
In this dissertation, I examine the ways white women teachers construct whiteness as they teach students of primarily Asian, African and Latina/o heritage. The primary purpose of this study is to conduct a preliminary examination of how white women construct whiteness as an embodied racial identity in educational contexts. More specifically, my goal is to examine how whiteness is constructed through narrative and to critique how the constructions of whiteness perpetuate and/or resist the discourse of white supremacy.
To frame the study of teacher narratives, I draw on theory from critical pedagogy, communication education, interpersonal/intercultural communication and critical cultural studies. Furthermore, I employ a critical-interpretive methodology to examine how teachers construct their personhood within complex relationships of power. This methodology is practiced through the use of three methods: Interactive classroom observations, dialogic interviewing and narrative analysis.
Five women teaching at a Southern California high school acted as "co-researchers" during this study. Herein, I interpret their narratives in order to understand how whiteness is constructed within the stories each teacher tells about her personhood/identity, the stories teachers tell about the personhood/identity of the students she teaches and how each teacher accounts for her relationship and the relationship of her students to the social world.
Titular terms include whiteness, personhood/identity, narrative, critical pedagogy, communication education, intercultural communication and critical cultural studies.
0453: Womens studies
0282: Bilingual education
0282: Multicultural education
0514: School administration
0340: Educational sociology
0326: Cultural anthropology