In 'The normalization of 'sensible' recreational drug use' Parker, Williams and Aldridge (2002) present data on illegal drug use by adolescents and young adults in the UK. They argue that it is both widespread and largely socially benign - ie, normal. We contrast this 'normalisation' thesis with evidence of an increase in the introduction of drug policies - and drug testing - in British organisations. Such policies construct employee drug use as excessive enough to necessitate heightened management vigilance over workers, in order to preserve corporate interests. These contrasting representations of drug use inspire our discussion. We deploy the normal/ excessive couplet to unpick drug taking, to examine organisational drug policies and to comment upon emerging and potential resistance to these policies. Our contribution is to suggest that each of these activities can be understood as simultaneously normal and excessive, in an area where orthodox and critical analyses alike tend to be far more dualistic.
This paper explores the politics of interpretation from the perspective of hermeneutic theory. It presents a reading of Kafka’s novel The Castle focused on critique of the business of interpretation, where suspicion unfolds in distorted, possibly fraudulent, sense making between protagonist, narrator and reader. The protagonist’s mission is neither heroic nor a call to resistance to bureaucratic absurdity, but instead, the result of hubris, hoax, or even a slip of the pen, and it becomes impossible to unpick the perils of bureaucracy from the perils of interpretation, or to distinguish between error and insight. In mining discrepancies between justification, effort and reward of interpretation, Kafka punctures the mythology of understanding, rupturing the near-sacrosanct hermeneutic connection between interpretation and meaning. His work undermines both objective and subjective understandings, leaving us distrustful of both expert and experiential perspectives. In a post-truth era with its ‘alternative facts’, The Castle feels startlingly fresh and relevant.
Academic ‘labour’ within the Higher Education landscape is changing as universities are increasingly managed as business organisations. In the contemporary neoliberal academic context, departments and individuals are required to develop forms of accountability based on quantitative metrics regarding performance, budgets, human resource management and income generation. Drawing from Foucauldian theories of power, this article explores the contentious implementation of workload allocation models in the UK Higher Education sector not only as an illustration of a superimposed managerial tool of control but also as an instrument of resistance. This article suggests that in order to counteract the systematic failure of neoliberal academia at the individual and collective level, these performance management tools can be used as forms of empowerment and resistance. Further, it is recommended that these instruments are designed in a collaborative way to ensure fair and transparent allocations of tasks and responsibilities, and to avoid unmanageable workloads.
This paper draws on literature in the fields of organizational studies, industrial relations, and industrial sociology to attempt to address 'new paradigm' managerial initiatives that espouse sentiments of unitarism in their discourse from a UK perspective. The specific focus of this theoretical investigation is the output of the proponents of the 'Learning Organization'. It is argued that in such organizations, employers attempt to control and induce behavioural change in employees through the use of reorganization and instrumental discourse. Managerial commentators and theorists have written much about what the implementing agents' expectations are of the outcomes of such organizational initiatives. Among these expectations is that the new initiative will bring about a radical change in attitudes in the workplace and that unitarism will prevail. However, an as yet underdeveloped area of study is what happens when the subjects (i.e. employees) receive the initiative, the potential for counter-ideology and resistance to the initiative, and the forms resistance may take. It is these latter two issues that this paper concentrates on. Ultimately, the paper seeks to present a conceptual investigation of pluralism within, and the nature and implications of resistance in, the Learning Organization. An allusion to Beaumarchais' `Figaro' is used to illustrate the arguments.
The central aim of this study is to provide a critical analysis of oppositional practices in the workplace by exploring the role of worker subjectivity in shaping and articulating contemporary strategies of resistance. First, a theoretical analysis will be presented which seeks to challenge many of the dualistic assumptions that have underpinned traditional studies of resistance. It is argued that the re-entry of subjectivity into the analysis of resistance provides a means for escaping these dualisms and retrieving the analytical and empirical significance of oppositional practices. The argument suggests that although subjectivities are indeed effects of power, and that individuals are positioned in relation to dominant discourses - and therefore constituted as having certain interests - power is not fixed and thus cannot completely or permanently determine identity. This instability of power makes apparent certain fragilities within these dominant discourses and makes them liable to threats and seductions from subject positions within different or competing discourses, it is suggested that these fractures and competing subject positions afford small but important spaces for resistance. The second half of this essay presents a detailed case study of the Acme School. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed to explore the subjective experiences of resistant members of Acme toward recent government reform initiatives. Two dominant strategies were identified: 'resistance through distance' and 'resistance through persistence' and it was demonstrated that an understanding of different subjectivities is vital to appreciating how these distinct strategies emerged.
Digital technology and software networks enable large numbers of knowledge workers to incorporate themselves wherever and whenever they wish and to choose between a sedentary or nomadic lifestyle. One way of configuring these new circumstances is as the extensive power of people, products and markets to speedily overcome obstacles and span distances. However, we increasingly see nonrepresentative corporations accelerating human pace and swallowing open spaces within the rational administrative control of a new supranational “Empire”. Intensive movement, on the other hand, reconfigures the human condition in ways that politically and ethically engage with universalizing global processes. Like the traditional nomads of the steppe or the desert, for example, the movement in question is a complex, dynamic relation characterized by its immediacy and continuous variation of alliance and resistance, that remains difficult to locate, difficult to control, and even more difficult to defeat. The paper argues that nomadism can be a starting point for an opposing strategy to the global knowledge economy.
Freidrich Nietzsche has declared an ‘excess of history.’ History is not being crafted for the purpose of life. Nietzsche posits three kinds of history: antiquarian (excessive concern for the past as just trivia about heroes), monumental (emerging history of becoming that is being stifled), and need for critical history (a resistance to antiquarian that can degenerate into skepticism and cynicism). My purpose is to develop the three modes of past into a critique of retrospective narrative and point to its antithesis, living story of becoming. Organizations suffer from an excess of retrospective narrative history. The antidote is a methodology we at STORI are calling ‘story noticing.’
The author explores the valorization of reflection by arguing for a reassessment of the use of reflection. She also discusses the implications of the notion of the parergon for the nature of the frame, definition and liminality. The author draws on blindness and seeing, on blindness and reflection, and writes about the body, the flesh, the resistance that is in the touch, and in the recovery of the physical as counterpoints to the passivity of reflection.
This article studies how a political organization begins to experiment with its identity. By use of an empirical case of the Danish Ministry of Education, I examine how a political organization supplements its identity of a legislating power with identities of a supervisor, beacon and facilitator of reflection processes. I analyse how the Danish Ministry of Education observes that its initial attempts to strengthen evaluation in the Danish public schools did not have the wanted effects because the values and professional norms of public school teachers constitute a resistance towards interference from outside the educational system. The Ministry thus faces a dilemma: the more it tries to control evaluation in the public school, the less likely it is to produce a desired effect. This paradox contains destructive potential but also causes the Ministry to reflect upon its own role in the development of evaluation in public schools. Out of a paralysis emerge new innovative strategies of governing, aimed at the schools’ self-governing capacity. The identity of the political system thus emerges as oscillations between different roles of a legislating power and a supervising coach. The case study suggests that a society of experimentalism is emerging. Thus, the relevant object of study is no longer organizational identity, but the experiments with different identities that modern organizations are performing.
The issue of workplace identity – how and why employees develop an attachment with and affinity for aspects of their work environment, and how work and non-work influences interact in the identification process, is a topic of substantial interest among both critical and ‗mainstream‘ management studies researchers (cf. Marks & Thompson, 2010). However, these streams of research have largely developed separately, with little cross-fertilization of ideas. This is also true of developments within the criticalmanagement community (e.g., between labour-process and postmodernist approaches). This paper seeks to remedy this situation by analyzing what I call ‗contextualist‘, ‗discursive‘, and mainstream approaches to the study of identity, with an eye towards synthesizing their best ideas. This may help management scholars to develop an understanding of identity that will empower lower-level employees at work.
Using Bourdieu‘s economic approach to language as the focal point, the paper addresses the dilemmas arising from the co-existence of a global, English and a national, Danish discourse within the field of higher education in Denmark. The first part shows how the emergence of a global knowledge market has prompted Danish university managers to develop new policies on language, promoting the idea of ‗parallel language usage‘ in an attempt to justify to staff and students the ongoing normalisation of English within the areas of research and teaching. The second part looks at the question of English domination from the position of the university lecturers. Drawing on qualitative research interviews collected at four Danish faculties, the analysis demonstrates how ‗English only‘ strategies have affected teachers‘ practice and how they have responded by developing idiosyncratic rules deriving from local needs rather than global principles. The paper concludes that there seems to be resistance to the normalisation of English within the Danish university system but that such behaviours tend to be hidden rather than explicit.
The paper explores two recent social movements that show signs of global resistance to the ideology of neoliberal polices and values; the Indignados uprisings that took place in Spain, Greece and Mexico, and the Occupy Wall Street protests that broke out across many parts of the United States. It argues that to understand contemporary social movement activity and protest politics, it is crucial to update social movment theories to include analyses of how the digital revolution has categorically changed the way that activists express grievances and share information, strategize and for on-the-street forms of contentious politics, and challenge the narratives put forth by authorities and the mainstream media when there are confrontations between peaceful protesters and the police force.
This article is based on an empirical study of employees’ experience of downsizing at a US air carrier called Vimanas Airline (a pseudonym) and includes forty two semi-structured interviews with captains and co-pilots who worked at that airline. The product of a fruitful collaboration between an experienced researcher and former Vimanas co-pilot, the paper explores how a new regime of corporeal power and panoptic organizational discourses produced commercial pilots’ subjectivity by first creating loyal company employees who actively participated in their own acculturation. Later, after airline restructuring, pilots modified their thinking and behaviour in an effort to maintain some sense of power, dignity, agency, and identity, resisting managerial efforts at further colonization. It became clear that complex and partly competing reality construction processes were at play. Contrary to previous research finding employees to often be complicit rather than resistant to managerial control efforts, particularly during times of corporate crisis, this study reports airline employees both participated in, yet later resisted managerial control efforts. Prompted by one of our respondents we refer to this colonization process as ‘bodysnatching’ with reference to the 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Building on past studies that assert that novels provide pedagogical promise as well as organizational insight for students and managers, we take up Simone de Beauvoir’s classic novel Les Mandarins which questions the meaning and value of literature to act as a form of resistance and activism, especially on behalf of the working class. We point out that ‘the workers’ are both present and absent in the novel, as they are the central point of discussion and yet no working class characters are developed within the pages of the novel. We address this as a rhetorical/literary device - accessoire-indispensable-mais-camouflé or more succinctly, the essential accessory, which future studies might invoke in assessing organizational practices.
The literature on dirty work has traditionally zoomed in on workplace studies of occupational groups The liturature stigmatized by some parts of society. In this paper the bias is challenged and extended with the aid of Iris Marion Young’s appropriation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s concept of seriality and an empirical study of workers with non-stigmatized occupations in stigmatized work contexts (arms and pornography). The study shows that the workers have to be constantly ready to deal with work-related dirt in their identity work and to do this without any means of support, development of a language or resistance to the transfer of dirt.