Organizational Hierarchies and Dynamics of Power (session 439)

When:  Aug 12, 2020
Interrogating the Toilet as a Seat of Power and Privilege
Designated as a “Best Paper” for CMS
Author: Ghazal Zulfiqar; Lahore U. of Management Sciences
Author: Ajnesh Prasad; CMS Division Co-Chair Elect

In this article, we study the nexus between privilege and inequality. To do so, we conducted a set of exercises with students at an elite private business school in Pakistan with the intention of invoking reflexivity. We asked students of affluent backgrounds to consider how they relate to toilet cleaners—those untouchables doing the most culturally denigrated of work in Pakistani society. Through this study, we sought to answer two questions. First, we wanted to understand how privilege is discursively enacted by constituents of the elite class through the imbricated processes by which they make sense of self and other. Second, we wanted to investigate the possibilities of reflexivity to interrupt, or otherwise negate, the reified cultural assumption of privilege. On the latter point, we set out to determine whether reflexivity would prompt students of the elite class to problematize their own privilege. By juxtaposing these two questions against the toilet as the empirical location, we illuminate the subversive power of the knowledge produced at the most marginal of sites.

Doing Violence: Suffering Bodies in a Refugee Arrival Centre
Best Critical paper sponsored by the journal Organization.
Designated as a “Best Paper” for CMS
Author: Philipp Arnold; European Uni Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder)
Author: Jana Costas; European Uni Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder)

This paper draws on ethnographic research of private security forces in a German first arrival centre for refuges and asylum seekers to explore how non-private actors engage in practices of violence. Despite a lack of a distinct legal framework, private security forces where mobilized by the facilities management and state authorities to enforce house rules and formal regulations around the asylum process violently, if necessary. Drawing on Popitz (1999) notion of the interplay of the bodies capacity to harm and its simultaneous vulnerability to harm to analytically capture violence, this study illuminates how violence is done situationally, contrasting the rather abstract view on violence in the extant literature. We analyse how violence was normalized through an interplay of signalling and engaging in violence and how private security forces adjusted their practices of violence in relation to the legal circumstances, thus establishing a form of violent control that aimed at what we have termed suffering bodies, in cooperation with management and authorities.

Bumpy Rides: Sweating to Clean Occupational Taint in Dirty Platform Work
Designated as a “Best Paper” for CMS
Author: Claire Le Breton; EMLYON Business School
Author: David Sanson; EMLYON Business School

This ethnographic paper aims at unpacking the role of workers’ social background in their response to identity threats. Especially, it brings together literatures on platform work and on dirty work to examine how French food-delivery couriers shield from occupational taint. This paper focuses on the middle-class, educated individuals, who have to cope not only with the taint specific to their dirty activity, but also with a low social status linked to their unexpected underclass occupation. The findings show that couriers craft an elitist aspirational identity standard based on moral and corporeal attributes, hence essentializing the image of worthy courier. To cope with the gap between their high-status projections and tainted activities, informants strive to distinguish from individuals who differ from this desired identity. Afraid of social demotion, they develop an aspirational identity standard that excludes otherness, hence strengthening the atomization of an heterogeneous low skilled platform crowd.

On Ableism and Anthropocentrism: A Canine Perspective on the Workplace Inclusion of Disabled People
Designated as a “Best Paper” for CMS
Author: Eline Jammaers; U. Catholique de Louvain

Although scholars have to some extend examined how disabled people become Othered in organizational settings through language, space and practice, and similar analyses have appeared with regard to animals, no analysis so far has focused on the potential double marginalization that takes place when disabled people come to work with their service dog. In filling this void, this paper acknowledges the role socio-materiality plays in creating a social order in which humans and able-bodied people are privileged over non-humans and disabled people. This study documents the in/exclusion of service dogs in the workplace and how it serves as a proxy for the dis/enablement of the owners with mobility and visual impairments, taking a spatial, discursive and affective form. In this way, inclusion and exclusion become materialized through spatial arrangements and artefacts, words and signs, and embodied, emotional performances. Contributions are made towards the literatures on ableism and anthropocentrism in the workplace by illustrating the embodied entanglement of human-dog in the daily organization of work

Divergent Perspectives on Diversity and Inclusion: Reconceptualizing & Advancing Black Scholarship
Best Critical Management Learning and Education Paper is sponsored by the journal Management Learning
Author: Penelope Muzanenhamo; U. College Dublin, Smurfit
Author: Rashedur Chowdhury; U. of Southampton

Why does diversity and inclusion scholarship remain silent on epistemic injustice? This article demonstrates that a culture of wilful blindness embedded in historically racist academic structures breeds inequalities in knowledge production and dissemination that disenfranchises black scholars and denies them contribution to dominant discourse. Reflecting on the experiences of black academics in diverse disciplines, we conceptualize black scholarship as underpinned by epistemic struggle and epistemic survival, due to subjugation to epistemic injustice. We conceptualize epistemic struggle as striving to produce and disseminate knowledge in the face of difficulties and resistance generated by structural and agential power. Epistemic survival denotes the sustained presence of black scholarship through compromise, collusion and radicalism, within an academia founded on the ideology of white supremacy. We argue that black scholarship struggles for survival not only for the sake of emancipating and integrating people of color, but also with the goal to bridge deep epistemic divisions. In reimagining black scholarship through the lenses of epistemic injustice, we aim to embed the concept into theoretical debates on diversity and inclusion in order to inform management practices in a nuanced way.