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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter suggests that Michel Foucault is a nuisance for scholars of organizations, albeit a productive one. Foucault disavowed the study of organizations, yet his work was fundamentally concerned with the administering of lives, a central concern of scholars of organizations. The chapter explores this tension by examining four displacements that Foucault sought to effect: first, a move from asking ‘why’ type questions to ‘how’ type questions; second, a concern with subjectivity that discards the ethical polarization of subject and object in favour of an analysis of the historically varying ways in which the capacities and attributes of subjects are constituted; third, a focus on practices rather than organizations, and a concern to analyse sets or assemblages of practices in terms of how they emerge and how they are stabilized over time; fourth, a focus on rationalities in the plural. It then examines the ‘Foucault effect’ in organization studies.

Keywords: Foucault, organization studies, practices, subjectivity, administering of lives

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