New Horizons in Leadership Studies series
Edited by Stephen P. Banks
Chapter 2: Varieties of Dissent
Brian Martin INTRODUCTION ● ● ● ● ● A scientist publishes a research paper questioning the dominant view on global warming. A minister gives a sermon suggesting the Holy Ghost is irrelevant to Christian belief. A company accountant meets with the boss to query the boss’s favored tax write-oﬀ scheme. Protesters join rallies against corporate globalization. A doctor in China sends e-mails alleging corruption in the Communist Party. Each of these scenarios might be considered an expression of dissent. What they have in common is questioning or challenging a dominant belief system, dominant either via widespread acceptance or via the power of those in charge. Dissent depends on your perspective: It is both lauded and loathed. It is lauded when it is in the glorious, unthreatening past. Famous dissenters include Socrates, Galileo and Martin Luther. Dissent is especially lauded when dissenters emerge victorious, such as the signers of the Declaration of Independence. It is also more easily lauded when it is geographically distant. Aung San Suu Kyi, the charismatic leader of the opposition to Burma’s repressive regime, is an example. But closer to home dissent is less attractive – at least to those whose power or position is threatened by it. Whistleblowers, for example, are individuals who speak out in the public interest. The classic whistleblower is a loyal, trusting employee who reports either internally or to outside audiences on a problem in the organization, such as corruption or a danger to the public. For their trouble, whistleblowers are routinely ostracized, threatened, harassed, reprimanded, referred to...
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