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In the mood for obedience : Despair, cynicism, and seduction among employment service employees

Paulsen, Roland LU (2016) In Culture and Organization
Abstract

Based on an ethnography at the Swedish Public Employment Service, this paper offers a typology of how employees managed to obey tasks they would rather not perform. It is argued that earlier studies of workplace obedience have tended to focus on a single mood in which the actor obeys: despair, cynicism, or seduction. Here, the movement between these moods is analysed. To pass from despair to cynicism, the emotional sensitivity particular to despair must be reduced. This happens through processes of detachment. To pass from cynicism to seduction, employees must break down the reflexive layer that obstructs enthusiasm. This happens through positive thinking. The reflexive step back to cynicism requires an analytic space that can be... (More)

Based on an ethnography at the Swedish Public Employment Service, this paper offers a typology of how employees managed to obey tasks they would rather not perform. It is argued that earlier studies of workplace obedience have tended to focus on a single mood in which the actor obeys: despair, cynicism, or seduction. Here, the movement between these moods is analysed. To pass from despair to cynicism, the emotional sensitivity particular to despair must be reduced. This happens through processes of detachment. To pass from cynicism to seduction, employees must break down the reflexive layer that obstructs enthusiasm. This happens through positive thinking. The reflexive step back to cynicism requires an analytic space that can be obtained either intentionally or through certain events. Building up the sensitivity that distinguishes cynicism from despair occurs through forms of alarm.

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
cynicism, functional stupidity, mood, obedience, workfare
in
Culture and Organization
pages
18 pages
publisher
Routledge
external identifiers
  • Scopus:84969802940
ISSN
1475-9551
DOI
10.1080/14759551.2016.1186673
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
3ca63ad0-81ac-4172-8b35-56534f496a75
date added to LUP
2016-06-23 08:14:29
date last changed
2016-06-23 08:14:29
@misc{3ca63ad0-81ac-4172-8b35-56534f496a75,
  abstract     = {<p>Based on an ethnography at the Swedish Public Employment Service, this paper offers a typology of how employees managed to obey tasks they would rather not perform. It is argued that earlier studies of workplace obedience have tended to focus on a single mood in which the actor obeys: despair, cynicism, or seduction. Here, the movement between these moods is analysed. To pass from despair to cynicism, the emotional sensitivity particular to despair must be reduced. This happens through processes of detachment. To pass from cynicism to seduction, employees must break down the reflexive layer that obstructs enthusiasm. This happens through positive thinking. The reflexive step back to cynicism requires an analytic space that can be obtained either intentionally or through certain events. Building up the sensitivity that distinguishes cynicism from despair occurs through forms of alarm.</p>},
  author       = {Paulsen, Roland},
  issn         = {1475-9551},
  keyword      = {cynicism,functional stupidity,mood,obedience,workfare},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {05},
  pages        = {18},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x856acc8)},
  series       = {Culture and Organization},
  title        = {In the mood for obedience : Despair, cynicism, and seduction among employment service employees},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14759551.2016.1186673},
  year         = {2016},
}