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Local meaning-making in discursive, embodied and affective registers

Local meaning-making in discursive, embodied and affective registers The purpose of this paper is to argue and explore how local meaning-making processes of leaders also occur in embodied and affective registers. The paper aims to introduce the theoretical concept of affect to studies of local public leadership.Design/methodology/approachThe paper reports from an ethnographic study of local leaders managing educational institutions in Denmark. The paper takes a constructivist or interpretive approach where it is acknowledged that data is not just out-there ready to be collected and reported but is constructed and interpreted in particular manners as part of the complex encounter between researcher and field.FindingsThe paper zooms in one particular instance where a leader breaks down in tears and where the tears seem to evoke a particular affective atmosphere. Thus, the paper shows how, just below the elite narrative of a need for stronger, individual and more evidence-based management, we find a myriad of meaning-making processes that transgress distinctions between the corporeal, affective and discursive.Research limitations/implicationsAs an ethnography conducted in a local setting, the paper avoids broad generalisations. The findings reflect the theoretical ambition of discussing the role of embodiment and affect in local leadership as much as the studied setting.Practical implicationsThe study testify to how policy implementation can take many unexpected turns as local leaders interpret and make sense of policy ambitions in many different ways. Moreover, it testifies to how leaders are informed by embodied experiences and affective atmospheres in their sense-making processes.Originality/valueThe paper is one of the first attempts in public leadership to discuss the role of embodiment and affect in local public leadership. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Public Leadership Emerald Publishing

Local meaning-making in discursive, embodied and affective registers

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References (81)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
2056-4929
DOI
10.1108/ijpl-06-2020-0053
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to argue and explore how local meaning-making processes of leaders also occur in embodied and affective registers. The paper aims to introduce the theoretical concept of affect to studies of local public leadership.Design/methodology/approachThe paper reports from an ethnographic study of local leaders managing educational institutions in Denmark. The paper takes a constructivist or interpretive approach where it is acknowledged that data is not just out-there ready to be collected and reported but is constructed and interpreted in particular manners as part of the complex encounter between researcher and field.FindingsThe paper zooms in one particular instance where a leader breaks down in tears and where the tears seem to evoke a particular affective atmosphere. Thus, the paper shows how, just below the elite narrative of a need for stronger, individual and more evidence-based management, we find a myriad of meaning-making processes that transgress distinctions between the corporeal, affective and discursive.Research limitations/implicationsAs an ethnography conducted in a local setting, the paper avoids broad generalisations. The findings reflect the theoretical ambition of discussing the role of embodiment and affect in local leadership as much as the studied setting.Practical implicationsThe study testify to how policy implementation can take many unexpected turns as local leaders interpret and make sense of policy ambitions in many different ways. Moreover, it testifies to how leaders are informed by embodied experiences and affective atmospheres in their sense-making processes.Originality/valueThe paper is one of the first attempts in public leadership to discuss the role of embodiment and affect in local public leadership.

Journal

International Journal of Public LeadershipEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 14, 2021

Keywords: Affect; Ethnography; Embodiment; Education policy; Local leadership; Decentered theory

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