Term of Award

Summer 2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 1

Robert Lake

Committee Member 2

John A. Weaver

Committee Member 3

Reta Ugena Whitlock

Abstract

This study examines the thoughts and ideologies that actuate the daily behaviors of Southern rural police officers as they pertain to practices consonant with social justice and equity. The research focus is the author’s own experience as a 21-year Southern rural police officer who ultimately obtained the position of chief of police while concurrently developing a firm commitment to ensuring social justice in his own practice and that of his subordinate police staff. The central question asks how a White male police officer from impoverished and politically and socially conservative ancestral roots could acquire a sincere concern for, and devotion to, social justice, and if the experience can be replicated to affect the thoughts, practices, and behaviors of other police officers. Methodologically and theoretically, the question is filtered through the lens of critical autoethnography, or the analysis of personal experience through an examination of personal stories framed by the tenets of critical social theory and encompassing some aspects of postmodernism, poststructuralism, and psychoanalysis to identify pertinent cultural, and in the instant case, subcultural, elements. The researcher’s hypothesis is that Southern rural police officers, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or other applicable demographic or social factors, are inordinately motivated by the hypermasculine imperative, a pathological masculinity that not only encourages, but virtually demands, that police officers maintain their sense of hypermasculine identity at all costs. In the author’s view, the research bears out this contention yet he proposes that the principles of critically engaged education and pedagogy (CEEP) can mitigate many, if not all, of the most pernicious effects of the hypermasculine imperative by promoting the adoption of a critical thinking philosophy and the development of critical social awareness among police officers through their promulgation in formal and informal training venues and through the intercession of police managers who have themselves adopted a philosophy of seeing police work as a serious commitment to social justice.

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