Preventing chiefs from being chiefs: An ethnography of a co-operative sheet-metal factory
Jaumier, Stéphane (2015), Preventing chiefs from being chiefs: An ethnography of a co-operative sheet-metal factory, XXIVème conférence annuelle de l’Association Internationale de Management Stratégique - AIMS 2015, Paris, FRANCE
TypeCommunication / Conférence
Conference titleXXIVème conférence annuelle de l’Association Internationale de Management Stratégique - AIMS 2015
MetadataShow full item record
Abstract (EN)What remains of power and resistance when the fundamental antagonism between capital and labour – traditionally considered their main determinant within organisation studies – is absent? In order to investigate this question, the present study draws on a piece of ethnographic work, namely one year of participant observation as a factory worker, which I conducted within a French co-operative sheet-metal factory. Pondering the presence within the co-operative of seemingly powerless chiefs, I draw on the works of French anthropologist Pierre Clastres (1934–1977) on stateless societies in order to study co-operators in their ‘continual effort to prevent chiefs from being chiefs’ (Clastres, 1987: 218). Three forms of daily struggle around power relations appear to be central for members of the co-operative in circumventing the coalescence of power in the hands of their chiefs: a relentlessly voiced refusal of the divide between chiefs and lay members; a permanent requirement for accountability, and endless overt critique towards chiefs; and the use of schoolboy humour. Reflecting on such mechanisms leads to my questioning traditional conceptions of power and resistance within organisation studies, ultimately endorsing the view that power relationships are the contingent outcome of contextual configurations of practices. In these, power and resistance are no longer readily discernible (rather than resistance being considered a detached reaction to power), and the related role assignations are constantly shifting (rather than power being the fixed attribute of managers, and resistance that of subordinate workers.) Additionally, it suggests that such configurations of practices may well rely on little equipped and little formalised mechanisms – rather than sophisticated technologies, which are usually the privilege of management only.
Subjects / KeywordsOrganisational democracy; Worker co-operatives; Ethnography; Resistance; Pierre Clastres; Power
Showing items related by title and author.
From intraorganizational struggle to co-operation between organisational professions. An ethnographic study of a French based industrial company Morales, Jérémy; Pezet, Anne (2007-12-07) Communication / Conférence