For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Abstract Ethics, Embodied Ethics: The Strange Marriage of Foucault and Positivism in Labour Process Theory"

by Wray-Bliss, Edward (2002)


In this paper, I draw jointly upon a Foucauldian ethical discourse and the example of the so-called `Manchester school' of Foucauldian labour process theory (LPT) to question the political/ethical aspirations and effects of critical management studies. Specifically, I question the ethics and effects of LPT researchers' relationships with those they/we research. I organize the discussion around four Foucauldian ethical themes or feelings. I thread these ethical themes throughout the paper to argue that, though Foucauldian LPT may be understood to abstractly resonate with these themes, its contribution is seriously undermined through the authors' lack of attention to ways of embodying this ethics in relations with the researched. By not embodying these commitments, the marriage between Foucault and LPT risks being read more as a marriage of convenience than commitment. And, further, a marriage that reproduces a politically problematic `modernist/positivist' self-other separation or divorce between researcher and researched.

Key Passage



Foucault, Foucauldian Labour Process Theory, Manchester School, Critical Management Studies, Management Ethics


On Foucault, Foucault, Labour Process

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