Communication ETDs

Publication Date



This dissertation explores subjectivities, agency, and power relations that emerge in discourses and performances related to one U.S. nonprofit organization attempting to end poverty, referred to as Transforming Poverty Partnerships (TPP). The author analyzes training materials, interview transcripts, and performance texts documented through participant observation. This study reveals a number of discourses in each of the texts, which function to reproduce dominant societal ideologies about individual hard work as a pathway to success, individual responsibility to create change, the normalization of the middle class, and a reinforcement of whiteness. The author takes a praxical approach in using theories from critical intercultural communication, performance studies, and critical pedagogy as a framework for understanding how subject positioning is realized and actualized in this organizational setting, how agency is enabled and constrained, and how texts reveal discourses, which ultimately function to reinforce and/or resist hegemonic systems of oppression. This framework and analysis leads to several recommendations for this nonprofit, with implications for similar organizations.




Poverty, Agency, Critical Discourse Analysis, Ideology, Embodied

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Collier, Mary Jane

First Committee Member (Chair)

Cramer, Janet

Second Committee Member

Milstein, Tema

Third Committee Member

Herrera, Brian