Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Adult Education and Human Resource Development

First Advisor's Name

Tonette Rocco

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Thomas Reio

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Hilary Landorf

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Richard Beaulaurier

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Institutional Ethnography, African American women, domestic violence, church

Date of Defense



The purpose of the collected papers dissertation was to critically examine the individual and institutional conditions that shaped battered women’s work experiences in church organizations. The studies in the collected papers shared the provision of using a methodological and analytic tool, institutional ethnography (IE), that offers a strategic and comprehensive means of investigating issues related to institutions and institutional processes that merge a macro and micro view. The first paper was a conceptual paper that emphasized the socio-political context in which adult vocation education is practiced and shared a practical means of using IE to uncover the interconnected and interdependent social processes that prohibit an individual’s ability to navigate structural and political subsystems that impact learning, teaching, and work. The second paper was an empirical paper that used IE to help us see how battered women’s needs as workers in Christian churches are evaporated behind institutional ideologies and actions that invalidate her concerns while preserving their ideals. The study revealed four ways that African American battered women entered into an institutional death process by direct disclosure or assumed disclosure: (a) invalidation, (b) overspiritualization, (c) inauthenticity, (d) and bifurcation. It was found, that once disclosure took place, women placed a different expectation upon the church to respond to their issue of domestic abuse. In summation, Study #2 highlighted the use of IE in uncovering the institutional relations that shaped women’s experiences as work in Christian churches. Overall, the findings elucidate ways that social workers, churches, adult educators, and HRD researchers and practitioners can engage in research that has implications for how to collaborate for implementable solutions. The findings provide ways for African American women to navigate oppressive regimes; and lends insight to how adult educators, HRD practitioners, and pastors who work with battered women can assist and intervene in the educational, emotional, and natural support areas for African American battered women working in Christian churches.





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