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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Understanding the Embedded Intergroup Relations of an Inner City Catholic High School: Learning from Student and Faculty Leaders

The present investigation employed embedded intergroup relations theory, both inductively and deductively, to examine collaboratively the organization of an inner city Catholic high school (Alderfer, 1976a, 1976b, 1977, 1980a, 1980b, 1981, 1985, 1987, 1997, 1998; Alderfer & Brown, 1975; Alderfer & Smith, 1982; Peterson, 1991; Sarason, 1971, 1972, 1996; Schon, 1983). The central focus of the study was to learn from student and faculty leaders. The research grew out of a school-based adolescent peer group intervention that was intended to support the leadership of students within the school by enlisting the natural forces of adolescent peer groups in cooperation with adult systems. Data collection methods included interviews, participant observations, and questionnaires about the experiences of the student and faculty leaders. Results contribute to knowledge about the psychological development of adolescents and adults within inner-city schools, and how that development might be aided or impeded by adolescent and adult group and intergroup dynamics. Implications for school leadership and for organizational consultation with schools follow from the findings.