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Recalcitrance, compliance and the presentation of self: Exploring the concept of organisational misbehaviour in an English local authority child protection service

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Children and Youth Services Review
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)612-619
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date21/07/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article examines how social workers reinterpreted certain legal requirements to meet their organisation's performance targets. Using an ethnographic approach, I combine organisational misbehaviour theory and Goffmanesque conceptions of dramaturgy to explore the regional activity of one team in a statutory agency. I argue that singly neither misbehaviour theory nor dramaturgical performances account for our understanding of why workers respond differently to organisational changes in a neo-liberalist environment. This study differs from current literature by shifting emphasis away from workers either resisting or conforming with organisational directives on to the ways in which individuals and collectives devise methods which instead give the appearance of co-operation. I demonstrate how workers disguised their resistance in an attempt to achieve potentially unachievable objectives and in turn avoid disciplinary action. I conclude by suggesting that applying Goffman to studies of organisation can advance scholars' understanding of how certain individuals respond to change and might come to be defined as loyal and compliant. This approach can also encourage discussions relating to the concept of recalcitrance and whether it is developed, and enforced, by those in powerful positions on the basis of their own desire to be well regarded by others. © 2017