Ethics, Embodiment and Organisations Workshop
A one day workshop on Thursday 19th May 2011, hosted by the People, Organisations and Work Research Group, Swansea University.
The workshop is organised by Dr Alison Pullen, Professor Carl Rhodes, Dr Sheena Vachhani and Dr Paul White, and is sponsored by Swansea University’s School of Business and Economics and Organisation: The Critical Journal of Organisation, Theory and Society.
Date: Thursday 19th May 2011
Venue: The Council Chambers, Singleton Abbey, Swansea University
Admission: The workshop is free of charge and all welcome. Please note spaces are limited and to book a place/for further details, please contact Dr Sheena Vachhani, School of Business and Economics, Swansea University, Tel: 01792 295834 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speakers: Dr Caroline Gatrell, Lancaster University; Professor Heather Höpfl, University of Essex; Professor Joanna Latimer, Cardiff University; Dr Alison Pullen, Swansea University; Professor Carl Rhodes, Swansea University, and Professor René ten Bos, Radboud University of Nijmegen.
Workshop details: This inter-disciplinary workshop brings together scholars from across the social sciences and humanities to pay attention to the embodied nature of both ethics and organisation as a political encounter. The workshop will explore what might happen when a corporeal ethics – an ethics founded in and through the human body – is brought into encounter with the rationalised and routinised character of organisations.
Amidst what has been dubbed an ‘ethical turn’ in the humanities and social sciences (Garber, Hanssen and Walkowitz, 2000), what is increasingly highlighted is the corporeal character of ethics as manifest in an ‘ethico-political’ practice (Diprose, 2002). Calling into question the controlling and disembodied evocations of traditional ethical theorising as an “ethics that is out of touch with the body” (Shildrick, 1997: 172), corporeal ethics is concerned with the ethics arising from the potential and possibility of an abundant and overflowing desire that operates between people with munificence and fecundity.
While corporeal ethics engages a “reversal of the traditional principle on which Morality was founded as an enterprise of domination of the passions by consciousness” (Deleuze, 1988: 18) it remains a rational, cognitive and ordered form of morality that informs discussions of ethics in organisations.
For organisations, the ‘man of reason’ (Lloyd, 1993) has not yet receded from his privileged place in the structured, ordered and relatively permanent organisational fixtures where we live our lives. On face value the ratiocinations and regularities of organisation defy the abundance and generosity of corporeal ethics. Our attention turns to what the bodily overflow of corporeal ethics means for life in organised institutions and for the diverse ethical engagement prompted by bodily encounters with social and cultural forms of organising. The body read as desiring and sensate rather than a vessel of containment and control, surfaces through the affective relationships between ethics, viscerality, feeling and organisation.
It is in organisations that affect is commercialised through the ‘managed heart’ (Hochschild, 2003) and reduced in value to emotional capital. Moreover if this form of management leads to an estrangement from personal feelings, doesn’t this subversive form of control also estrange us from corporeal ethics? At the same time as sites of human interaction would not organisations be a prime location that one might expect people to come in contact ethically and with embodied affect? Or are there organisational reasons for legitimating only those affective displays which would benefit the organisation instrumentally (Bauman, 1989; 1994)? Or are there strong ethical moves to eviscerate corporeal ethics in favour of producing more universal ethical principles (Du Gay, 2000) divorced from a visceral ethics of the carnal body (Merleau-Ponty, 1968)? Conversely can the meaning of ethics only ever be founded in the incarnate face-to-face encounter with the other that precedes reflection, cognition and knowledge (Levinas, 1981)?
More generally, is there a place in organisations for a corporeal ethics that enacts an overflowing ‘life force’ of generosity (Diprose, 2002: 190), or would such an ethics paradoxically become unethical through its impact on the social order? Are generous organisational relationships matters that cannot actually be organised into programs, rules, codes or routines (Rhodes and Pullen, 2009)? How do these ideas change the ways in which we think through resistance in organisations? Is ethical resistance possible? Is it possible for organisations to be sites for an ethics that takes one outside of one’s self and into the realm of unassimilable difference? Can tensions between embodied and disembodied ethical formulations be rendered visible in organisational practice? Do embodied social encounters within organisation challenge particular modes of ethical subjectivity or objectivity? How do critiques of mind/body dualism get enacted ethically in organisations?
It is precisely such questions that this workshop will elaborate, investigate, debate and, we should say, experience.