Date of Award

1994

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

J. Donald Ragsdale

Abstract

This dissertation is a fantasy theme analysis of the organizational communication culture of the Louisiana State Police. This study interprets the rhetorical function of the organizational sagas of State Police. State Police has a distinct history aligned with Louisiana Politics. In 1937, General Louis F. Guerre, the first superintendent, envisioned a new State Police, immune from political pressures, "soldiers of the law in the first line of defense for society." The symbolic persona of LSP has survived through fifty-six years of politics and policing as the state's ranking law enforcement agency. As participant observer, the researcher gathered communication data and observations through interviews, informal conversations, and surveys with veteran troopers and cadets. The surveys provide data for content analysis and to correct discrepancies. A fantasy theme analysis as a taxonomy of the symbolic convergence theory of communication provides the methodology to discover and interpret narrative and dramatic communication materials. This study reconstructs the rhetorical visions and sagas as the social reality of the organization to determine how and why members create culture through communication. This analysis validates two overarching organizational sagas of Soldiers of the Law and The Academy. These function as the members' common symbolic bond to the organization. The study reveals that the symbolic personae function as the unifying elements of the sagas and the members' identification with the organization. Documented in the study are three patterns of symbolic convergence as consciousness creating, raising, and sustaining communication. The LSP Training Academy experience and the graduation ritual function as consciousness creating and raising communication strategies through which new recruits are acculturated into the organization. Finally, consciousness sustaining communication is documented through Internal Affairs sessions. The study confirms that State Police is an organization in flux. In response to crisis, members create new fantasy themes and rhetorical visions as strategies to accommodate change. The organizational sagas of State Police function rhetorically as primary communication forms through which members create, raise, and sustain the culture and make sense of the chaos of organizational life.

Pages

295

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