Dissertation Title:

Being White in America: A Study of Storied Accounts


Jonathan Rudow

Date, Time & Place:

October 1, 2022 at 11:00 am


This research explores variations in the experience of whiteness-as-lived within the narrative accounts of white Americans, focusing on how positionality affects the development of identities, sociopolitical beliefs, and conceptions of whiteness as a site of social power and privilege. Centered upon a framework of critical race theory and critical whiteness studies, the research posits the value of allowing space for complexity in the lived experiences of whiteness to expand the fields’ epistemic and pedagogical understandings. The study maintains the ethical necessity and capacity for white researchers to address these complexities, offering the praxes of compassionate listening and storytelling as a dual-approach to fostering white participants’ engagement and self-determined learning in narrative inquiry research focused on critical discourses. Participants elaborated on their past and present experiences of class, place, age, education, exposure to the Other, and their sociocultural and sociopolitical backgrounds through semi-formal interviews or written-response surveys. A grounded theory methodology was used to analyze the data through the lenses of critical philosophy and phenomenology. The research also integrates the lenses of depth psychology and liberation psychology in considering how archetypal and imaginal dimensions of whiteness act upon collective unconscious material, and how this purview may lend to collective liberatory outcomes. Participants in this study reveal the complex turnings of whiteness as it relates to personal and group identity formation, conceptions of community, and perceptions of sociopolitical conditions and issues.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology Community, Liberation and Ecopsychology, P, 2013
  • Chair: Dr. Mary Watkins
  • Reader: Dr. Edward Casey
  • External Reader: Dr. George Yancy
  • Keywords: Whiteness, Narrative Inquiry, Identity, Listening, Storytelling, Critical Race, Critical Whiteness, Lived Experience, Positionality