The last 15 years have witnessed renewed interest in resistance in and around organizations. In this essay, we offer a conceptual framework to thematize this burgeoning conceptual and empirical terrain. We critically explore scholarship that examines resistance in terms of its manifestations and political intent or impact. We offer four fields of possibility for resistance scholarship: individual infrapolitics, collective infrapolitics, insubordination, and insurrection (the ?four I?s? of resistance). We conclude by considering the relationship between resistance theory and praxis, and pose four questions, or provocations, for stimulating future resistance research and practice.
[A]s Foucault succinctly put it, “where there is power, there is resistance” (1980a, p.95). Here, Foucault is not positioning resistance as exterior to power, as a reaction to power, but as an immanent and constitutive element of the exercise of power itself. Thus, while much of the research on resistance tends to situate it in a binary relationship with power (Vallas, 2016), we conceive of power and resistance as co-constitutive and dialectical (Mumby, 2005), though dialectical in Adorno’s (1973) “negative” sense rather than Hegel’s (1977) “positive” sense. Given the topic of this special issue, however, we frame this relationship as resistance/(power) rather than power/ (resistance), foregrounding the multiple possibilities for organizational resistance. Echoing Foucault, “resistance comes first…; power relations are obliged to change with the resistance… resistance is the main word, the key word, in this dynamic” (Foucault, 1997, p.167, emphasis in original) (p.1161)
KeywordsFoucault, Foucauldian Resistance, Resistance, Worker Resistance, Infrapolitics, Organisational Theory
ThemesResistance to/at Work, On Foucault, Foucault
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