Meaning of political controversy in the classroom: A dialogue across the podium

Linda Liska Belgrave, Adrienne Celaya, Seyda Aylin Gurses, Angelica Boutwell, Alexandra Fernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The abstract value of academic freedom is enjoyed (or not) in concrete settings, as interactional and emergent experiences.We examine classroom political controversy in our experiences, understandings, and values, using grounded theory methods and collective autoethnography by a team of five teachers and students. Our data were generated through electronic and face-to-face dialogues. Our analysis, guided by a symbolic interactionist and constructionist framework, yields a picture of Controversy in Action, whereby we navigate Barriers to Open Discussion and Costs of Controversy. Results highlight insights into taken-for-granted meanings unexamined in day-to-day classroom interaction. We attend to the relevance of the local context in which our classrooms are embedded and the interactional, meaning creating work that goes on in those classrooms, as we negotiate controversy. Keywords: academic freedom, controversy, teaching, grounded theory, autoethnography

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-87
Number of pages20
JournalSymbolic Interaction
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012


  • Academic
  • Autoethnography
  • Controversy
  • Freedom
  • Grounded theory
  • Teaching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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