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Managerialism and "infinite human resourcefulness" : a commentary upon the "therapeutic habitus", "derecognition of finitude" and the modern sense of self.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/2007
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal for Cultural Research
Issue number3
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)245-264
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper examines new managerial discourses and practices in which the dialectic of labour is reconstructed as a series of acts of self-understanding, self-examination and "self-work", and through which the "self qua self" is constituted as the central object of management technologies. We interrogate concepts such as "excellence", "total quality", "performance", "knowledge", "play at work" and "wellness" in order to decipher the ways in which managerialism deploys what we term therapeutic habitus, and projects a new horizon of "human resourcefulness" as a store of unlimited potentialities. We invoke management's wider historical-cultural context to situate managerialism within the framework of modernity as a cultural epoch whose main characteristic is what we term "derecognition of finitude". It is the modern synthesis "with the "self" at the centre of its system of values" that provides the ground for current elaborations of subjectivity by managerialism. The paper examines how current vocabularies and practices in organisations use "work" to rearticulate discursively the human subject as an endless source of performativity by configuring work as the site of complex and continuous self-expression. Management itself thus acquires a new discursive outline: instead of appearing as an authoritarian instance forcing upon workers a series of limitations, it now presents itself as a therapeutic formula mediating self-expression by empowering individuals to work upon themselves to release their fully realised identity.

Bibliographic note

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Journal for Cultural Research, 11 (3), 2007, © Informa Plc