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Journal Article

Power, Discursive Practices and the Construction of the "Real"  pp378-387

Alketa Peci, Marcelo Vieira

© Jun 2009 Volume 7 Issue 3, Editor: Dan Remenyi, pp297 - 397

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Abstract

Starting with a critique of the epistemological and ontological bases of neo‑institutionalism, in this article we defend the potential for the application of post‑structuralist perspectives to the institutional approach. We contend that this theoretical approach, which incorporates an element, traditionally overlooked in institutional analyses, namely power, has the advantage of contributing to an enhanced comprehension of the dynamics of institutionalization. We apply post‑structural perspectives, particularly as presented by Michel Foucault, as well as the pragmatic perspectives represented by the works of William James and Richard Rorty, to explicating underpinnings of the institutional approach. We would stress that the affinity between the post‑structural perspective and pragmatism has been acknowledged by other authors, such as Keller (1995), McSwite (1997) and Rorty (1999) himself. Incorporating the element of power into the analysis contributes to an enhanced comprehension of the dynamics of institutionalization. In conclusion, we believe that the area of organizational studies would benefit by a more all‑encompassing vision of the processes of institutionalization, which would include power at its core, instead of considering institutions as non‑changing variables. Clegg (1989) has provided a framework for such analysis and this paper serves to elaborate what some of its philosophical foundations might be in greater detail. We would stress that it is not possible to find answers if we just search for cause‑effect relations, because the explanations found through causal mechanisms constitutes, in itself, a kind of discourse of power, as pointed out by moderns such as Hobbes (1650). Undoubtedly, if we take empirical research into consideration, what we need is, from a historical perspective, understand the way by which the main discourses or narratives constitute, transform and are transformed by our objects of investigation, among which organizations certainly occupy a central place. However, it is necessary to tackle this undertaking with a certain degree of humility, abandoning the search for ultimate causes to more proximate and local narratives, small stories that communicate their own sense of the mechanisms of truth at work. And in these matters, we should be bullied into causality.

 

Keywords: power, discursive practices, institutionalization, post-structuralism, fields, construction of the "real"

 

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