Dissertation Dilemma

You haven’t heard a lot from me over the past year. I won’t bore you with excuses, except to let you know that I experienced a prolonged illness, was involved in two minor accidents, continued working two to three jobs, provided extra support for my family, and finally finished my most recent book, Whole Happy and Healthy. Now that this difficult year has passed, I must turn my attention to the topic that I have been avoiding for more than six years: my dissertation topic.

My problem has never been that I don’t have any ideas; in fact, I have too many. Committing to one topic in which I will immerse myself for the next few years is a bit scary. But I am at the point where the ‘rubber meets the road,’ as they say, and my goal is to complete a concept paper if not a full proposal by the end of this summer. I want my topic to be something exciting to me but also relevant and helpful to others in the field. I have narrowed it down to the following broad ideas; let me know if you have any suggestions!

  1. How professional and personal identity is constructed within the context of experience with progressive social change organizations
  2. How social justice leaders experience and perceive social myths and how they intentionally contest and change prevailing narratives
  3. The interaction of social justice leaders’ interpretation of their life stories as related to class, gender, race, ability, and other identities and their lived experience and how those interpretations and identities fluidly evolve over time
  4. How social justice organizations unintentionally reproduce the social conditions they were designed to ameliorate (i.e. income inequality)
  5. How women experience inequity and exclusion as workers and volunteers in social justice organizations

2 thoughts on “Dissertation Dilemma

  1. Great to see you getting these ideas out there Jessica. All sound like intriguing options, though as you said they are still very broad. Numbers 3 and 5 appeal to me. However this is not about me, but perhaps by giving you an insight on why I would pick either 3 or 5, it can help you use your own self-knowledge to choose the best options. Here are a few questions I ask myself:

    Am I curious about the topic? Yes, I have a intrinsic curiosity about both topics

    How does it connect with my research agenda? Both connect to the work that I am currently doing relative to women and leadership (5) and to narrative research i.e. CAE (3). That means I already have buy in for these two. It also means less work for me in familiarizing myself with the literature around these topics.

    How can I leverage this study to advance professionally beyond completion? As I project ahead for the next 5 years, I think either of these topics could be leveraged to advance me along my future career ambitions.
    After asking and answering these questions, choosing between the two would then come down to pragmatics. Can I access a sample? Which is more manageable for a solo short term project?

    That’s a quick and dirty overview of my process. Happy thinking!

    Liked by 1 person

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