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Storytelling and power. An Arendtian account of subjectivity in organizations
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1487-9397
2019 (English)In: Organization, ISSN 1350-5084, E-ISSN 1461-7323Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

This paper extends our understanding of subjectivity in organizations by discussing Arendt’s notions of storytelling and the space of appearance in relation to power in organizations. Stories are discussed as spatial practices through which actors reconfigure themselves as well as the spaces between them. The problematic relations concerning power and subjectivity in organizations are discussed from Arendt’s perception that storytelling always happens in spaces where people are simultaneously actors who act as well as being submitted to the actions of others. Three theoretical implications for understanding subjectivity in organizations are drawn out. First, I argue that Arendt’s notion of storytelling implies the active agency of the subject in the deep sense that every human being needs some choice and demands some control over her or his life. This implies the ever present possibility of the emergence of a space of appearance. Second, I argue that storytelling as a spatial practice suggests that the term ‘emplacement’ becomes critical for the analysis. Emplacement, rather than plot, implies critical questions concerning belonging to, and inclusion in, space. Third, I argue that the Arendtian framework directs our attention towards what takes place in the multiple varied spaces of engagement and interaction in organizations. Four variations of storytelling are discussed: precarious storytelling, storytelling as a private experience, storytelling and power as entangled dynamics and storytelling as an antenarrative of freedom.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176942OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-176942DiVA, id: diva2:1377364
Available from: 2019-12-11 Created: 2019-12-11 Last updated: 2020-02-19

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