For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The later Foucault in organization and management studies"

by Barratt, Edward (2008)


This article reviews the use of the later Foucault in organization and management studies. Offering an evaluation of readings of the later writing, we comment on arguments for re-focusing on genealogical criticism, for an alternative Foucauldian politics of the workplace and a form of practical criticism sometimes derived from the later writing. A key aim is to attempt to open up new directions for critical inquiry drawing on other ways of reading Foucault. If genealogy is to be installed as a vital resource for critique, there appears to be a need for renewal. On the question of political alternatives, we comment on the ambiguities and silences ? especially the historical silences ? of the later Foucault's interpreters. A style of practical criticism inferred from readings of the later writing should not, we suggest, be accepted without qualification.

Key Passage

Turning now to the possibilities of a Foucauldian politics of the workplace, it is never clear in the later writing where Foucault wants to take the idea of freedom and autonomy. At times it is as if he wants to give only the basic outlines of an alternative since anything more always runs the risk of implying a definitive position (Foucault, 1996a). Yet there are other – less frequent times – when Foucault alludes to the possibility of elaborating on what autonomy might mean for the present (Foucault, 1996a). Such a project evidently remained uncompleted at the time of his death. Foucault leaves us with a number of brief allusions, an historical analogy and a set of recommendations as to how we might set about reinventing the present. It has been left to others to explore the political possibilities of the later writing, including those commentators who have recently sought to intimate the possibility of a Foucauldian politics of the workplace (Starkey & Hatchuel, 2002; Townley, 1994a, 1995). (p.523)


Foucault, Management Studies, Management Studies, Social Science, Politics Of The Workplace, Genealogy, Genealogical Criticism


On Foucault, Foucault, Critical Management Studies

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