For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The division of the subject and the organization: A Lacanian approach to subjectivity at work"

by Magala, Slawomir; Arnaud, Gilles; Vanheule, Stijn (2007)


First, the authors discuss basic Lacanian ideas with regard to the notion of the unconscious and its discursive status and with respect to the crucial difference between the ego and the subject. Subjectivity is linked to the notion of the lack. The authors then address implications of Lacanian theory for thinking about and intervening in organisations.

Key Passage

In our discussion on the division of the subject, we stressed that the dimension of thelack, and the dissatisfaction it entails, need to be thought of as structural andinsatiable. As we now apply these ideas to issues of human work and organizationalchange, this idea remains crucial. From the Lacanian point of view, we claim that theactivity of work (as a typical human occupation) is also structurally non-satisfying.This means that it is structurally impotent in providing specific satisfactions to those who engage in work. The idea that work could provide the subject with fulfilling added value is an illusory product of wishful thinking: work is nothing but work. (p.363)


Lacan, Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity, Organisational Studies, Organisational Structure, Consciousness, Ego, Discursive Subject


Psychoanalysis, Psychological Centrality of Work

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