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Journal cover: Society and Business Review

Society and Business Review

ISSN: 1746-5680

Online from: 2006

Subject Area: Business Ethics and Law

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Transformative learning in troubling times: investing in hope

Document Information:
Title:Transformative learning in troubling times: investing in hope
Author(s):Maria Humphries, (Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand), Michelle St Jane, (Kairos Philanthropy, Southampton, Bermuda)
Citation:Maria Humphries, Michelle St Jane, (2011) "Transformative learning in troubling times: investing in hope", Society and Business Review, Vol. 6 Iss: 1, pp.27 - 38
Keywords:Capitalist systems, Economic policy, Social policy
Article type:Conceptual paper
DOI:10.1108/17465681111105814 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to disenchant advocates of sustainability of the current form of capitalism and to argue that under current intensification of globalisation of economic and political efforts, “privilege” and “alienation” might be relocated/rearranged/redistributed but that the basic dynamic will remain constant. The very poor and vulnerable appear to be treated as collateral damage by capitalist practices reified as “The Market” and which we have personified as “The Master”.

Design/methodology/approach – The authors draw on the metaphor of subaltern studies to amplify their call for further discussion. Portraying the economic system as The (ruthless) Master invites further conversation about complicity or subjugation and invites reflection on alternatives to associated agency.

Findings – The Master's powers are amplifying globally. He continues to demand sacrifices. The most recent demand comes in the call for the protection of his economy at the expense of those to be most affected by climate change. These sacrifices are to be enacted by the willing high priests, the compliant, and the ignorant. Their sacrificial lambs are those who are forcibly harnessed to a system that exploits them, who become dependent on that system for survival, and who may be summarily dismissed when their “usefulness” is deemed diminished. The paper is here concerned with the people whose alternatives are reduced or destroyed and with the tolerance of this destruction of lives and livelihoods by an enabling population.

Research limitations/implications – This paper is an invitation to continued conversation, not a research paper in the positivist sense. The paper may be viewed as an experiment to see how far alternative perspectives can flourish in the academy and in our classrooms, boardrooms, and cafeterias. Conversations are posited as a means of change – of self and society.

Practical implications – This paper invites practitioners and academics to engage with critical self-reflection as a necessary aspect for transformational learning and leadership. The extent to which positivists models of knowing prevail, papers more exploratory of diverse ontologies may be diminished or dismissed with significant implications for the enhancement or depletion of (intellectual and spiritual) diversity.

Social implications – The attractiveness of “sustainability” discourses are a mixed blessing. They may be generated to unsettle and used to transform ways of knowing and being that have led to the current crises facing humanity. The proffered remedies for these crises may also enable The Master to become better informed and more able to assimilate those who criticise. A subaltern position would make this less likely.

Originality/value – The value of an amplified subaltern voice lies in the honing of more critical insights and thus the discovery of not only more creative technical solutions to issues of sustainability and justice but the co-creation of covenants that may generate a form of human and environmental flourishing beyond the Wealth of Corpor-Nations.

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