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ΔΙΕΘΝΕΣ ΣΥΝΕΔΡΙΟ: Critical Management Studies and Anarchism

26/01/2013
CFP – 8th International Conference in Critical Management Studies

Stream 14. Critical Management Studies and Anarchism

Convenors:

Thomas Swann, Konstantin Stoborod (University of Leicester) 
and Stevphen Shukaitis (University of Essex)

As the topic of the Critical Management Studies (CMS) 2013 conference points out, CMS has drawn on a wide range of radical and left-wing theories in seeking to understand how management and capitalism works today. While Marxism and feminism are readily referred to as underpinning CMS, anarchism is often overlooked as potentially offering a valuable perspective on this problematic; both in attempting to provide a framework of understanding for the recent uprisings and revolutions, and as having a perhaps unique position on the question of meta-narratives and grand theories of social conflict and change. Looking at anarchist thought within the context of CMS could be a very rewarding exercise and is indeed long overdue. This sub-stream is part of a larger effort that began at the Anarchist Studies Conference in September 2012 with a stream on anarchism and CMS and will continue in the coming years with the publication of a special issue of the journal ephemera: theory and politics in organization.

As Gibson Burrell noted twenty years ago, there is a ‘growing number of alternative organisational forms now appearing, whether inspired by anarchism, syndicalism, the ecological movement, the co-operative movement, libertarian communism, self-help groups or, perhaps most importantly, by feminism’ (1992: 82). Despite anarchism appearing first in his list of inspirations for alternative organisation and having a history at least as old as Marxism and feminism, there has been relatively little research on anarchism and its principles within management studies. Notable exceptions include some works under the umbrella of critical management studies (Reedy, 2002; Parker, Fournier and Reedy, 2007).

Anarchist writers have, however, much to say about organisation and management, especially when it comes to outlining ideas for alternatives to capitalism. From the earliest days of the anarchist movement, writers including Proudhon (2011), Bakunin (1971) and Kropotkin (1970) spoke of federalism and voluntary association as organisational forms that would eclipse those of capitalist and hierarchical society. In the 20th century, Goldman (1910) and Bookchin (2004), among others, focused anarchist theory on questions of gender and sexuality and ecology respectively, while others such as Ward (1973) sought to develop anarchism as a science of organisation. In recent years, following the struggles of the alter-globalisation movement, anarchist theory has come to stress the importance of democratic organising, direct action (Graeber 2009) and prefiguration (Franks 2006).

Drawing on these and other anarchist thinkers, CMS has the potential to say something important about the current developments in the global political economy, as well as more localised manifestations of its dynamics and logic in the form of management and organisation. As well as leveling critique at contemporary capitalism, anarchism’s strong focus on prefiguring alternatives and on building new forms of organisation in and through struggle with the old could be a point of convergence in bringing anarchism and CMS into discussion with one another. Within this framework there is ample scope for examining and trying to account for the events of the last four or five years.

The aim of this sub-theme is to flag up the relevance of anarchism and anarchist thought for CMS. This has to be attained by bringing anarchist ideas about management, organisation and the nature of capitalism to bear on CMS. This should not be limited to simple borrowing from handy anarchist concepts for the purposes of making CMS a more varied discipline, but must include a more thorough engagement with the richness of the anarchist theoretical tradition. This will help in finding out where the productive overlap between two paradigms already exists as well as identifying the lacunas which need to be filled. We particularly welcome examples of how and where intervention from (critical) management studies is needed to rethink the salient issues of the day when it comes to alternatives to global capitalism, as well as a discussion of what anarchist theory has to offer alongside various forms of organising. It would be interesting to receive submissions from those reflecting on anarchism and anarchist practices from a CMS perspective for the first time. We invite scholars to examine their own research and experiences through the lens of anarchism, hopefully as a way to further develop their thought. Examples of broad topics we would welcome include:

  • Organisational norms and practices in 21st century radical social movements
  • Economic, political, social and environmental protests
  • Can anarchism be found (or lost) in the business school?
  • The relationship between post-Marxism and anarchism
  • Postanarchist critiques on meta-narratives following the economic crisis
  • New technologies, new attitudes and their effects on horizontality in organising
  • Business ethics and anarchist ethics
  • Leadership: managerial and anarchist perspectives
  • Promotion and “marketing” of anarchist theory and practice
  • Embodiment and performativity in protest movements
  • Emotions and affectivity of the alternative
  • Global anti-authoritarian and/or anti-capitalist trends reflected in local practices
  • Anarchism as the outsider of CMS
  • Is there a science of anarchist organisation?
  • The promise of radical opportunity always being elsewhere

Submission of abstracts

Please send abstracts to Konstantin Stoborod (ks302@leicester.ac.uk), Thomas Swann (trs6@leicester.ac.uk) or Stevphen Shukaitis (stevphen@autonomedia.org)

Abstracts should be 300 – 500 words, A4 paper, single spaced, 12 point font. Deadline 31st January 2013

Notification of paper acceptance: 22nd February 2013

Full papers will be expected by 1st May 2013

Your abstract should include:

  • Title
    The focus, aims and objectives of the paper
    The research evidence base underpinning the paper
    How the paper will contribute to the theme

We look forward to hearing from you, and any questions in the meantime should be addressed to Konstantin Stoborod (ks302@leicester.ac.uk) or Thomas Swann (trs6@leicester.ac.uk).

References:
Bakunin, M. (1971) Bakunin on Anarchy (edited and translated by Sam Dolgoff). New York: Vintage Books.
Bookchin, M. (2004) Post-scarcity Anarchism. Edinburgh: AK Press.
Burrel, G. (1992) ‘The Organization of Pleasure’, in M. Alvesson and H. Willmott (eds.) Critical Management Studies, pp. 66-89. London: SAGE.
Franks, B. (2006) Rebel Alliances. The Means and Ends of Contemporary British Anarchisms. Edinburgh: AK Press.
Goldman, E. (1910) Anarchism and Other Essays. Mother Earth Publishing Association.
Graeber, D. (2009) Direct Action: An Ethnography. Edinburgh: AK Press.
Kropotkin, P. (1970) Selected writings on Anarchism and Revolution (edited by Martin A. Miller). Massachusetts: MIT Press.
Parker, M., V. Fournier and P. Reedy (2007) Dictionary of Alternatives. New York: Zed Books.
Proudhon, J.-P. (2011) Property is Theft! A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Reader (edited and translated by Ian McKay). Edinburgh: AK Press.
Reedy, P. (2002) ‘Keeping the Black Flag Flying: Anarchy, Utopia and the Politics of Nostalgia’, in M. Parker (ed.) Utopia and Organization, pp. 169-188. Malden: Blackwell.
Ward, C. (1973) Anarchy in Action. London: George Allen and Unwin Press.

Biographies

Thomas Swann is a PhD student in the School of Management at the University of Leicester. Drawing on anarchist thought in the course of his research on social media and organisation theory, Thomas pays special attention to classical anarchist ideas of federalism as well as post-War anarchism’s discourses around technology. Thomas has also been involved with anarchist ideas as an activist for the last 5 years, mainly within the social centre movement and community organising initiatives in the Netherlands. He has published on classical anarchism and the necessity of teleology for practical conceptions of anarchist ethics.

Konstantin Stoborod is a PhD student in the School of Management at the University of Leicester. In his research he draws on the insights of Jacque Lacan and Slavoj Žižek, to explore how financial subjects are relating to popular culture.

Stevphen Shukaitis is an editor at Autonomedia and lecturer at the University of Essex. He is the author of Imaginal Machines: Autonomy & Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Life (Autonomedia, 2009) and editor (with Erika Biddle and David Graeber) of Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations // Collective Theorization (AK Press, 2007). His research focuses on the emergence of collective imagination in social movements and the changing compositions of cultural and artistic labo

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