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Discursive resistance as a tool for servant-leaders: the tactics of Eugene V. Debs

Mark H. McVay

Keywords: servant-leadership; narrative; discourse; discursive resistance; socialism; framing; Eugene V. Debs


With the spirit of a servant-leader, Eugene V. Debs countered the prevailing narrative or status quo in his portrayal of Jesus Christ, his desire for racial and ethnic inclusion, and his resistance to the First World War. In doing so, Debs reframed the discussion to focus a new light on the subject of his interest: the working people of the United States. This paper describes the theory of discursive resistance and suggests its use as a tactic for leaders wishing to alter entrenched perceptions, thereby laying the groundwork for change.

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