MBA Students' Perspectives toward the Economic Crisis
The current economic crisis resembles a type of "critical situation" wherein everyday assumptions and routines sustaining hegemonic ideologies and their corresponding forms of social power are prone to be disrupted (Giddens 1987). Such situations provide opportunities for the relative strength of such hegemonies, and how they are effectively restored and/or challenged, to be uncovered. In undertaking this study I sought to discover the social and economic implications and lessons MBA students associate with the current economic crisis and how they frame and rationalize such perceptions. In so doing, I further aimed to uncover specific ideological processes they perform in preserving and/or challenging conventional tenets of liberal capitalism. I reexamine the sociological concept of ideology in reference to the empirical data, and test the capacity of Giddens' (1979, 1984) and Mannheim's (1949) combined methodologies in uncovering interconnections of consciousness, ideology and agency. I conducted semi-structured interviews with 23 MBA students from five universities in Boston, and used a combination of grounded theory and theory testing to analyze the data. Findings reveal not only the specific content comprising hegemonic notions of what constitutes economic and social reality among respondents, but also reflect how ideology functions as a holistic process of social and self understanding and how it reproduces, and is reproduced by, the performance of agencies within particular corporate and educational structures. I argue that the tenets espoused and enacted by many respondents reveal a stark challenge to future social change. Even amid the current crisis -the largest since the Great Depression -most respondents acknowledge that this event had little impact on how they view their professional vocations or the macro economic system. This finding not only speak strongly to the rigidity of conventional tenets underscoring our liberal capitalist culture, but also implies the urgent need to reconsider how our educational institutions should play a greater role in challenging conventional notions of reality espoused so fervently by burgeoning business professionals. I further argue that critical, systematic evaluations of consciousness and ideology should take a more substantial role in the social sciences in determining the restraints and possibilities for social change.