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Democratic Leadership Theory in Late Modernity: An Oxymoron or Ironic Possibility?

  • Robert J. Starratt
Part of the Studies in Educational Leadership book series (SIEL, volume 1)

Abstract

This chapter is intended to enrich and expand scholarly reflection on democratic leadership theory. Leithwood and Duke (1999) make the claim, in their review of the literature on school leadership, that contemporary philosophy of educational administration has made no significant contribution to leadership theory. However, one can argue that contemporary philosophy has indeed implicated educational administration and the assumptions of enlightenment/modern philosophy that support its practice. The chapter begins with the question of the possibility of democratic leadership theory after the postmodern critique of democracy, epistemology and all meta-narratives (Maxcy, 1991). The question is posed whether democratic leadership theory is thereby defeated, or significantly chastened. It goes on to ask whether democratic theory may overcome its own contradictions through a self-consciously ironic pragmatism.

The next section of the paper explores the limits and constraints on leadership theory after Postmodernism. Leadership theory and its proponents have to agree to a continuous evaluation by a hermeneutic of suspicion, a continuous deconstruction of its treatment of power and authority. It has to respond to the unavoidable issues of racism, sexism, classism, and other oppressing ideologies.

Keywords

Moral Ideal Public Life Constructivist Theory Contemporary Philosophy Rational Argument 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. Starratt

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