For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Foucault, power and organizations"

by Clegg, Stewart (1998)

Key Passage

Foucault writes concretely and descriptively on power, much as did Weber. The ontological foundations of modern institutions, the institutional sources of power, are his topic. Foucault (1977) sees the methods of surveillance and assessment of individuals that were first developed in state institutions such as prisons, as effective tools developed for the orderly regimentation of others as docile bodies, techniques that achieve strategic effects through their disciplinary character. This is so, he maintains, even when they provoke resistance. Resistance merely serves to demonstrate the necessity of that discipline that provokes it. It becomes a target against which discipline may justify its necessity because of its lack of omnipotence. These disciplinary practices become widely disseminated through schools, the army and the asylum, and eventually into the capitalist factory. They become strategic if they are effective constitutions of powers. As a form of knowledge they work through their own ontogenesis. Because they are knowledge constituted not just in texts but in definite institutional and organizational practices, they are ‘discursive practices’: knowledge reproduced through practices made possible by the framing assumptions of that knowledge. Moreover, it is a very practical knowledge: it disciplines the body, regulates the mind and orders the emotions in such a way that the ranking, hierarchy and stratification that ensues are not just the blind reproduction of a transcendent traditional order, as in feudalism. It produces a new basis for order in the productive worth of individuals defined by new disciplinary practices of power. (p.30)


Foucault, Power, Organisations, Meaning, Membership, Discursive Practice, Sociology, Organisational Theory, Surveillance


On Foucault, Foucault, Critical Management Studies



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