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Week 2 Reading Issues Knights and Willmott (1) ’Power is often associated with the coercive and repressive features of social life. It is the means through.

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Presentation on theme: "Week 2 Reading Issues Knights and Willmott (1) ’Power is often associated with the coercive and repressive features of social life. It is the means through."— Presentation transcript:

1 Week 2 Reading Issues Knights and Willmott (1) ’Power is often associated with the coercive and repressive features of social life. It is the means through which a ruling class, political elite or managerial group controls subordinate strata within a society or an organization. More recently, power has been associated with the very existence of social relations. From this newer perspective, power is not simply or exhaustively negative, coercive or zero-sum (i.e. A has power over B) It is also productive and positive (i.e. A and B are each enabled as well as constrained within relations of power). Power is understood to transform human beings into subjects that identify with the ideas and practices through which power is exercised’ Can you illustrate these different conceptions of power by reference to particular, concrete organizing practices? In what ways is the second formulation of power helpful in understanding the dyanamics of management control?

2 Week 2 Reading Issues Knights and Willmott (2) ` Insecurity arises when people are unable to interpret a situation in a way that confirms their own sense of themselves – for example, as a `bright student’ or as a `caring person’. Social situations are especially difficult in this respect, since we can never be fully sure of, let alone control, how others view us. Yet it is through our sense of how others view us that we develop and evaluate self-identity…One way of attempting to limit or remove insecurity is to reduce and displace the complexity and idiosyncrasy of individual experience by attaching oneself to a typical social identity (e.g. `professional manager’). Even so, these identities remain precarious because individuals are unable to control the conditions that give rise to their formation and reproduction’ What are the key ideas being articulated here? To what extent to you find them im/ plausible? How might you wish to develop or revise them? Do they shed any light upon processes of managing and organizing?

3 Week 2 Reading Issues Knights and Willmott (3) ` The concept of inequality underscores the importance of differences in possession of, and access to, valued material and symbolic goods (e.g. wealth and expertise) for understanding the organization and management of work. In the absence of reflection on structured inequalities, there is a danger of understanding the behaviour of subordinates in a hierarchy, for example, as an expression of their irrationality, ignorance or incompetence, rather than of their limited access to scarce material and symbolic (e.g. educational) goods. In turn, an attentiveness to structured inequality can prompt reflection on the economic and political principles that underpin reproduction in work organizations and society more broadly. The behaviour of people in organizations is then understood socially and historically, as an articulation of the wider context that is reproduced through their actions.’ What relevance does the concept of `inequality’ have for analysing `industrial relations’? What kinds of inequality are present within work organizations, and what significance for organizing and managing do they have?


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