Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Kari Veblen


Transformative learning occurs when individuals not only learn only some specific knowledge or skills, but also achieve a more inclusive understanding of themselves and of society through the learning process. To transform means to overcome limiting assumptions, with the potential of engendering new attitudes, psychological attributes, and behaviours. This integrated-article dissertation explores the possibility of transformative learning experiences through music with marginalized individuals in Northeastern Brazil.

The first article is based on interviews with five renowned Brazilian scholars, in order to provide a broader contextualization of Brazilian music education, as well as to shed light into issues explored in the subsequent case studies. One case investigates how transformation has occurred in the lives of music students from a disadvantaged community rife with social problems, in a school that struggled with frequent political and financial challenges that affected the students’ learning. The other case study explores the life of a Chinese immigrant who mastered música sertaneja, a typical Brazilian country music style, in order to gain greater acceptance in his new society, constructing a hyphenated multicultural identity in the process.

Through the findings of these case studies, the dissertation discusses how transformative learning depends on the intertwined relationship between the individual’s own agency and environmental support; how transformation has the potential to affect one’s consciousness and behaviours; how individual behavioural transformations might affect other people, thus creating the possibility of social transformation as a ripple effect; and how dialogical processes are shown to be essential for durable transformation to occur.