All in this together… Corporate (and State) use of “family” rhetoric

It makes my flesh crawl.  That ‘one team’ bollocks, where our lords and masters (be they corporate or state) make out as if ‘we’re all in this together’ – to quote the words of some already forgotten Tory Prime Minister.  Yeah, right.

So, I really want to read ‘The Good Soldier Schweik’ (after my thesis.  I read this academic article and it was good-

Fleming P. and Sewell. G. 2002. Looking for the Good Soldier, Svejk: Alternative Modalities of Resistance in the Contemporary Workplace. Sociology, Vol. 36 (4), pp.857-873

This quote kinda nails it

As Kunda (1992), Barker (1993, 1999) and Casey (1995, 1999) have so explicitly reported, if workers do not subjectively buy into the discourse of ‘excellence’ or ‘continuous improvement’ and actively participate in the attendant rituals then they are pathologized by the managerial gaze and transformed into organizational outcasts by fellow team members. Dissent and resistance in these contexts are not explained as something related to the inequality of the capitalist labour process, but rather a matter of, ‘Do you have problems at home?’ ‘Is it your husband?’ ‘Is it your wife?’ ‘Are you stressed?’ ‘Do you have financial problems?’ ‘Do you suffer from anorexia?’ Thus, the question is invariably framed in the same way: ‘What is wrong with you?’
(Fleming and Sewell, 2002:861)

Here are some of the references, fwiw.

Bailey, F. G. 1988. Humbuggery and Manipulation: The Art of Leadership. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Burawoy, M. 1979. Manufacturing Consent.: Changes in the Labor Process under Monopoly Capitalism. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Casey, C. 1995. Work, Self and Society: After Industrialism. London: Sage.

Casey, C. 1999. “Come, Join Our Family”: Discipline and Integration in Corporate Organizational Culture. Human Relations, Vol. 52 (2), pp.155-178.

Willmott, H. 1993. Strength is Ignorance; slavery is Freedom: Managing Cultures in Modern Organizations. Journal of Management Studies. Vol 30 (4), pp.515-52.

You Canute be serious! On Heresthetics, floods and much more

canuteKing Canute eh?  What an arrogant tosser, thinking he could command the tide not to come in.  Except I already knew he wasn’t – that he had (probably) pulled the stunt – if he ever did-  to get some of his more over-enthusiastically sycophantic courtiers to knock it off.  What I didn’t know was that a corking academic article had been written about him – or rather, using his story to make some points about structure, agency, yadder yadder yadder.

As per Paul Cairney’s advice

If you’re still with me, have a quick look at Hay’s King Canute article(or my summary of it). Yes, that’s right: he got a whole article out of King Canute. I couldn’t believe it either. I was gobsmacked when I realised how good it was too.

I went and read

Hay, C. 2009. King Canute and the ‘Problem’ of Structure and Agency: On Times, Tides and Heresthetics. Political Studies, Vol. 57, pp.260-279.

Far too much to go into in great detail, but here are some clips.;

In particular, the (various) stories of King Canute and the waves alert us to the need: (1) to maintain a clear distinction between the empirical and the ontological; (2) to resist the temptation to attempt an empirical adjudication of ontological issues (or, indeed, an ontological adjudication of empirical issues); (3) to differentiate clearly between the capacities of agents with respect to material/physical structures on the one hand, and social/political structures on the other; (4) to acknowledge the significance of unintended consequences; (5) to attend to the ‘performative’ dimensions of agency; and (6) to recognise the dangers inherent in an overly instrumental view of actors’ motivations and intentions.
(Hay, 2009:260)

This raises a first point of more general significance, and one all too frequently overlooked in both the existing literature on structure and agency and in political analysis more generally. It is simply stated as the need to differentiate very clearly between the capacities of actors to negotiate the opportunities and constraints presented to them by natural/physical structures and those presented to them by social/political structures.
(Hay, 2009:265)

Canute’s reign occurred at a time when sea levels were rising (Ettlinger, 1952, p. 236). Indeed, as many of the contemporary sources testify, in 1014 (the year he was declared king of England by the invading Danish forces with the death of his father), significant areas of the East of England in particular were submerged by unprecedentedly high tides. There was considerable loss of life (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, E 1014, p.145; Henry of Huntingdon, 1996 [c.1140], vi, para 11, p. 355; William of Malmesbury, 1989 [1125], para. 179, p. 165). Accordingly, by the early to mid-1020s, once Canute was more firmly established on the throne, it might well have appeared that the only threat to his sovereign authority came from the sea itself.9
(Hay, 2009:271)

… in William H. Riker’s terms he is revealed as something of a heresthetician. This rather interesting concept draws attention to the often overlooked artistic, rhetorical and performative dimensions of agency which arguably the story of Canute and the waves displays in abundance….

In the most general terms, a heresthetician is a creative agent who strives to alter decisively the strategic context in which he or she finds him or herself so as to render it more amenable to strategies for realising his or her intentions (Riker, 1982; 1984; 1986; see also McLean, 2002; Shepsle, 2003).
Yet it is not just the general category of heresthetics that is relevant here. For Riker goes on to identify three separate varieties of heresthetics. These he associates with control of the political agenda, strategic voting (logrolling and so forth) and, rather more importantly for our purposes, what he terms the ‘manipulation of issue dimensions’ (Riker, 1982, pp. 215–32; 1986).
(Hay, 2009:276)
Heresthetics is a KEY thing in the terrain building within which the streams ‘naturally’ flow…

Isn’t it macaronic? #wordsIdidntknow

macaronic ˌmakəˈrɒnɪk/
adjective 1. denoting language, especially burlesque verse, containing words or inflections from one language introduced into the context of another.
noun 1. macaronic verse, especially that which mixes the vernacular with Latin.

As in Private Eye’s Pig Latin Honorary Degrees, or the late Miles Kington‘s Let’s Parler Francais…

anabasis ‎(plural anabases)
A military march up-country, especially that of Cyrus the Younger into Asia.
(obsolete) The first period, or increase, of a disease; augmentation.
Antonyms catabasis, katabasis

Clamant ˈkleɪm(ə)nt,ˈklam-/ urgently demanding attention.

Women talking>30% = dominating…

Is anyone actually surprised?

Don’t know where I grabbed this from, but Dale Spender (not Spencer) is way cool. I saw her on tellie in the late 80s or early 90s and thought ‘you’re smart, and you are dismantling the sexist idiot next to you on the panel.’ Read one of her books, possibly Man Made Language?

Ah, wait, have googled and found this, which casts major doubt on Spender’s work…

The point is, yes it is often the case that men speak more, but it hurts us to oversimplify to these outdated understandings of gender relations. It’s a disservice to us, science, and to all non-binary peeps if we keep existentialist notions of language and gender alive.

If you have questions/want sources hit me up I live for this shit

also @linguisten @allthingslinguistic if y’all have anything to add

Thanks for all the additional research! I’m just going to signal boost this.




“Initiativitis” Love it.

Policy as palimpsest
Pam Carter

A palimpsest is a multi-layered text that is reinscribed over time. This article presents policy as analogous to a palimpsest to highlight implementation processes and the complexity of judging progress. Findings from an ethnographic study of the UK Sure Start Children’s Centres policy demonstrate how implementation is experienced locally. Here religious beliefs and traditional cultures influence implementation and persistent social structures are in tension with rapid policy shifts or ‘initiativitis’. Perceptions of progress depend on how history is interpreted, how policy is framed and how the future is imagined. Unintended consequences are produced as a local policy-palimpsest is enacted.

© The Policy Press, 2012 • ISSN 0305 5736 423
Key words: implementation • childcare • policy framing • time
Policy & Politics vol 40 no 3 • 423-43 (2012) •

And this below from here

This debilitating disease is most acutely felt at the operational level of organisations by people who are engaged in delivering core products or services. Its presenting symptoms include a loss of focus, overwork, frustration, anger and demotivation.

The apparent cause of these signs of initiativitis is too many ideas being implemented in too short a timescale. The resultant bottleneck allows insufficient time for any one idea to take root and become established before the next comes along and diverts necessary resources.

The range of responses to initiativitis vary from on the one hand putting pressure on people to do more to tolerating slippage in timescales or the effectiveness of the initiative on the other. Both fall foul of the quart and the pint pot rule. A simple enough rule that requires no explanation, but one which is breached by most organisations, most days.



Suspicious minds and climate policy

Goering is alleged to have said that whenever he heard the word culture he reached for his revolver. For me, whendver I hear the word ‘trap’ I think of my Elvis. Specifically, ‘We’re caught in a trap. I can’t walk out.…’

Meanwhile, this from an article

Nair, S. and Howlett. 2015. From robustness to resilience: avoiding policy traps in the long term. Sustainability Science,

is good

“A lock-in trap is characterized by low capacity for change, high resilience to change, and high connectedness among structural variables which may preclude change or render it rather expensive (Ranger 2013; Allison and Hobbs 2004). Policies typically emerge as ‘bundles’ or ‘mixes’ of policy tools through processes of policy change, with addition and subtraction of elements over time (Howlett and Rayner 2013). Any change in policy response, however, will typically be faced with resistance by stakeholders and beneficiaries of status quo policy arrangements. This makes it difficult to introduce any radical changes in the adaptation policy mix even if new policy objectives are put forth (Kern and Howlett 2009). Innovations for example would need to compete with existing institutions that have already been imbibed into the socio-economic context and attempt to fit through processes of ‘‘learning, coercion and negotiation’’ (Rip and Kemp 1998; Christiansen et al. 2011).”

And of course, the mother of all carbon lock-ins, from all the physical, political, psychological infrastructure. You are are now leaving the Holocene, as the amazing David Pope cartoon goes…


So it goes. So it went. This too shall pass…

And those citations

Allison HE, Hobbs RJ (2004) Resilience, adaptive capacity, and the ‘‘Lock-in Trap’’ of the Western Australian agricultural region. Ecol Soc 9(1):3.

Christiansen L, Olhoff A, Trærup S (eds) (2011) Technologies for adaptation: perspectives and practical experiences. UNEP Risø Centre, Roskilde

Kern F, Howlett M (2009) Implementing transition management as policy reforms: a case study of the Dutch energy sector. Policy Sci 42:391–408

Howlett M, Rayner J (2013) Patching vs packaging in policy formulation: assessing policy portfolio design. Politics Gov 1(2):170–182

Ranger N (2013) Topic guide. Adaptation: decision making under uncertainty. Evidence on Demand, UK, p. 86

Rip A, Kemp R (1998) Technological Change. In: Rayner Steve, Malone Liz (eds) Human choice and climate change, Vol 2 resources and technology. Batelle Press, Washington D.C., pp 327–399