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Preaching and practising 'flexibility': Implications for theories of subjectivity at work

Whittle, Andrea 2005. Preaching and practising 'flexibility': Implications for theories of subjectivity at work. Human Relations 58 (10) , pp. 1301-1322. 10.1177/0018726705059859

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This article explores the relationship between discourse and subjectivity in organizations with reference to an ethnographic study of UK management consultants. The article reveals the contradiction, criticism, cynicism and ambivalence involved in their role as preachers and practitioners of flexible work. These findings question the assumption that management consultants are evangelists that are identified with the discourses they sell. However, I also argue that the dis-identification and contradiction I observed did not in fact disrupt or disturb the production and promotion of their flexible working discourse. I suggest that the consultants constructed pragmatic, instrumental and dramaturgical selves in order to manage the tension between being preacher and practitioner. I conclude by suggesting that cynicism, ambivalence and contradiction constitute important but neglected features of work and organization.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Uncontrolled Keywords: contradiction, discourse, flexible work, identity, management consultancy, subjectivity
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0018-7267
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:05

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