Theorizing dramaturgical resistance leadership from the leadership campaigns of Jeremy Corbyn

Sinha, Paresha; Smolovic Jones, Owain and Carroll, Brigid (2021). Theorizing dramaturgical resistance leadership from the leadership campaigns of Jeremy Corbyn. Human Relations, 74(3) pp. 354–382.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726719887310

Abstract

What are the practices through which resistance leadership transitions from marginality to power? We present a framework of dramaturgical resistance leadership, paying particular attention to the relational dynamics between leaders, internal factions and external stakeholders. In doing so, we draw on an ‘expanded’ social drama analysis framework informed by the work of social anthropologist Victor Turner, incorporating insights from the resistance and critical leadership studies literatures. We develop our framework through a narrative case analysis of the British Labour Party’s 2015 and 2016 internal elections of its current leader Jeremy Corbyn where we identify a space between the phases of relational crisis and redress that offers possibilities for the enhancement and growth of resistance leadership. Within this space, we identify three practices of dramaturgical resistance leadership: ‘anti-establishment leadering’, ‘organizational redrawing’, and a ‘trifold focus’. These offer a means of rethinking the purpose and role of leaders within resistance movements alongside the co-constituted relations and generative practices that enable resisting groups to gain traction.

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