For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Lacan at Work"

by Glynos, J (2010)


As a site of wealth creation, work and the organization of work receive critical attention from many disciplines and from many traditions of thought. In this chapter I explore why one might want to supplement existing approaches to work and the organization of work – both psychoanalytic and non-psychoanalytic – with ideas drawn from the field of Lacanian psychoanalysis. I suggest that there are advantages to organizing this Lacanian intervention around the category of fantasy, but that there are also aspects of this approach that demand further development if we are to offer a convincing critical explanation of workplace phenomena.

Key Passage

In general, however, we could say that the focus of a large swath of psychoanalytical approaches to work and the organization of work are concerned with problems which are defined in relation to a positivized conception of an individual’s psychological health or a positivized conception of an organization’s operational health. These health ideals frame a whole range of commonly analysed problems in this area: absenteeism, bullying, stress, workaholism, compulsiveness, occupational choice, motivations for continuing or abandoning work, reasons for particular style of management, trust, and sexual harassment. These are, of course, important problems that deserve our attention. It is also true that such psychoanalytic perspectives, as commonly applied, contrast with and broaden the more conventional economic perspective on work and organizations. The latter assumes that the subject is motivated by material goods and must be managed on that basis. The former, on the other hand, suggests that the subject is moved by psychological motives such as the wish to control or be controlled by others, or to secure the approval of others, etc. However, psychoanalysis often gets deployed in a way that is too focused on the individual and how the individual copes psychically with the demands of the organization, and thus in a way that marginalizes the wider social and political significance of organizational norms and behaviour. (p.24)


Lacan, Psychoanalytic, Lacanian Psychoanalysis, Organisation Studies, Pathologies Of Work, Psychosocial Studies


Lacan, Jacques

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