For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"All I want to do is get that check and get drunk"

by Rhodes, Carl (2009)


The purpose of this paper is to examine the themes of resistance to organizations in Charles Bukowski’s novel Factotum in relation to contemporary theory in organization studies, and to consider the ways in which the literary depiction of resistance can be used to extend theoretical debates on the subject.

Key Passage

Factotum’s theme of resistance is one that has been taken up considerably in the academic study of organizations, especially recently. As Fleming and Sewell (2002, p. 858) state: “after something of a hiatus worker resistance now seems to be firmly back on the research agenda”. Fleming and Sewell trace this renewed interest to an article published by Thompson and Ackroyd in 1995 entitled ‘All quiet on the workplace front?” In that article, Thompson and Ackroyd complained that the historical virtue of sociology’s ability to uncover the resistance and misbehaviour in organizations was in danger of being eroded, replaced by a focus on the potency of managerial agency at the expense of the agency of labour. Such a focus, they complained, had led to over-stated empirical claims that “resistance and informal self-organization [had] been squeezed out by the success of new managerial practices” (Ackroyd and Thompson, 1999, p. 155). The result, they argued, was the marginalization of resistance as an object of study, rather that the absence of resistance per se. (p.388)


Bukowski, Anti Work, Against Work, Resistance, Organisational Studies, Organisation Theory, Alcohol, Alienation, Literature, Fiction


Resistance to/at Work

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