Theses Doctoral

Responses to Normative Disruption of the Gender Binary Through the Creation of Gender Inclusive Housing

Anderson-Long, Maria Alana

This study, a multisite qualitative case study, examines the responses of three institutions of higher education to normative disruption of the gender binary. Normative disruption, or the challenging of the social status quo, occurs when power structures in society are pushed back against. Central to this study is the use of open systems theory, which positions higher education as a subsystem of American society, and therefore responsive to changes in the environment external of the institution. This study investigates how, if at all, these case sites employed Gender Inclusive Housing (GIH) policies as an institutional response to changes in how gender was conceptualized on their campus. Specifically, this study addresses: 1. how changes in societal norms around the gender binary influence colleges and universities, 2. in what ways institutions respond to such changes, 3. what ways institutions reestablish organizational homeostasis around an expanded concept of gender, and 4. how institutional characteristics influence decision-making responses.
Out of the findings of this study emerged the Model of Normative Disruption, a mechanism that can be utilized to understand institutional decision-making responses to normative disruption. The findings of this study suggest: 1. various societal and institutional factors influence the ways in which normative disruption manifests at a college or university, 2. institutional characteristics and culture impact all responses to normative disruption, and can either support or hinder change, 3. GIH is one mechanism of responding to normative disruption, but, depending on institutional characteristics, may not be sufficient enough change to reestablish organizational homeostasis, and 4. if the institutional culture is not an amenable environment to such changes, organizational homeostasis is difficult to reestablish.
This study concludes with implications for theory, research, and practice. Importantly, I suggest that GIH policies might serve as an opportunity for administrators to begin the necessary conversations of understanding the myriad cisgenderist policies, practices, and culture that exist within systems of higher education.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Drezner, Noah D.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
March 1, 2019