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Date: 01/01/2020
  • Academic Research

What Benefits do Men Experience through the Work That Reconnects? A Phenomenological Inquiry

By Vincent Brown

Dissertation for PhD program in Transformative Studies with a focus in Consciousness Studies at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS)


This dissertation is a phenomenological inquiry into the lived life benefits of a significantly homogenous group of white men who participated in men-only retreats in the Work That Reconnects that is rooted in the work of Joanna Macy. Their homogeneity is relative age, ethnic heritage, economic status, and access to resources. In this inquiry I use the lenses of tradition, safety, community, environment, and spirituality to explore the impact of the Work That Reconnects. A goal of this inquiry is to understand what benefits these men have experienced through their engagement in these retreats. A secondary goal is to gain insight into what keeps men from attending these retreats as well as what motivates some men to become involved in personal growth activities that lead to social change. The Work That Reconnects is described as an integral dialogic group model that helps men overcome emotional numbness, alexithymia, thus helping them identify and give voice to their inner world of thoughts, feelings, emotions, and core values. I frame this discussion around patriarchy, social masculine norms of behavior, men’s health, aspects of the men’s movement, white privilege, deep ecology, and how self-introspection informs multiple intelligences leading toward an integrum of inclusion. Also included in this discussion is complex systems thinking, the expansion of conscious awareness, neurophysiology, and how brain plasticity v allows neurological change. In addition to the benefits of the Work That Reconnects, I offer a discussion on contradictions and concerns offered as suggestions for growth in this work. I conclude the discussion with a summary of the benefits as expressed by study participants, areas of future research, and recommendations for using the Work That Reconnects with men working to create more meaning, purpose, and value in their lives thereby benefiting themselves, their relationships, and society at large.

Contributor/Author: Vincent Brown