Title

Managing Dialectics to Make a Difference: Tension Management in a Community Building Organization

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-2012

Department

Communication Studies

School

Communication

Abstract

This article is an ethnographic report of the dialectic tension management practices of a community-building organization called the Nehemiah Group. This group unites local churches to serve the community. This three-year participant-observation study documents how group members manage two primary and intertwined dialectic tensions: noncooperation-cooperation and unity-division. Members use multiple practices to manage these tensions and other intertwined tensions: They construct narratives to voice moral issues, to alternate between tension poles to address pragmatic obstacles, to frame tensions as complementary through segmentation, and rely on prayer rituals to reframe tensions. From this analysis, three implications follow: (a) moral narratives serve to construct framing options, (b) a larger discursive history is utilized to create counternarratives, and (c) metadiscursive practices rely on rituals to manage tensions.

Publication Title

Communication Studies

Volume

63

Issue

2

First Page

243

Last Page

261

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