Defense Date


Graduation Date



Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Clinical Psychology


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Martin J. Packer

Committee Member

Rodney K. Hopson

Committee Member

Leswin Laubscher


Dialogue, civic engagement, transformation, social change, community psychology, critical pedagogy


The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the processes through which people are transformed in their encounters with one another and consequently moved to engage in civic action. Proponents within critical pedagogy have underscored the significance of dialogue for motivating hope, agency, and civic engagement. The importance of conceptualizing dialogue as transformative has been underscored in light of research and theories within community psychology, which have both argued for the significance of civic engagement for social change, and documented its decline in recent years. Despite this, review of literature addressing transformative learning and civic engagement point to the absence of detailed accountings of how communities are transformed through their interactions with one another.

In order to articulate transformative processes toward civic engagement within a community setting, this author conducted a detailed analysis of group interactions from a selection of participants from the community initiative, Meetings for Civic Change (MCC). Using an interpretive research methodology informed by Hegel's (1977) theory of human transformation and De Rivera's (1977) theory of the intersubjectivity of emotions, the author showed that MCC participants were transformed in their relationship to the interminable difference of other people. Facing this difference, participants explored what they did not know about themselves. This process moved participants to consider different ways of relating to other people in their community. Based on her analysis, she argues that dialogue may be studied as an intersubjective phenomenon. The research methodology allows for articulation of how people are transformed in their relationships with one each other. She encourages a more nuanced approach to community practices aimed at transformative action, and offers suggestions for a more engaged praxis.