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Critical theory (chapter 6)



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Critical theory (chapter 6)

  1. 1. CRITICAL THEORY (CHAPTER 6) Dr. Lora Helvie-Mason, COMS 404 - Mentally revisit the classical, humanist, systems, and cultural concepts - Examine and reflect upon your understanding of POWER in organizations and in our society
  2. 2. ROOTS OF CRITICAL THEORY Frankfurt School philosophy Karl Marx Knowledge in society is NOT objective Organizational communication scholars operating from a critical theory attempt to reveal how social and technological structures within organizations serve to oppress workers
  3. 3. DOMINATION  Critical theorists view an organization as a site of domination where the interests of the dominant group (typically owners and managers—people with power) are elevated above the interests of subordinate groups (typically the workers—people with less power).  It is all about POWER…who has it, who doesn‘t, what they do with/without it  Mumby (2000) notes two levels of concern with power in critical theory  Individual/group social relations  Interests and values upon which knowledge claims are made
  4. 4. DIMENSIONAL VIEWS Power: One Dimensional View Power: Two Dimensional View  ―A has power over B to the extent that A can get B to do something B would not otherwise do.‖ (Dahl, 1957)  Focuses on decision-making behavior and conflict  Power MUST consider both decision making and non- decision making (Bachrach & Baratz, 1970)  Focuses on the fact that power is present in both covert and overt communication Power: Three Dimensional View  Power may be present in situations where there is no conflict on the surface and at times OTHER than when a decision is being made (Lukes, 1974)  Focuses on political agenda, issues and potential issues, and observable (overt or covert) and latent conflict
  5. 5. IDEOLOGY AND HEGEMONY  Ideology is the value and beliefs held by the dominant group.  Ideology represents values, ideals, and understandings about a part of social reality.  Ideology can function in the following ways: to represent sectional interests as universal, to deny or transmute contradictions, to naturalize the present through reification, to use ideology as a means of control.  Hegemony is the enactment of these values and beliefs by the subordinate group  The key to the concept of hegemony is the idea that the subordinated group actively supports the interests of the dominant group, often unknowingly, a situation resulting in oppressive circumstances.  The subordinated group is actively participating in the maintenance of the dominant group‘s ideology; hence, its means of control. Think about it! How is this critical view actually ‗critical‘– consider the term.
  6. 6. CONCERTIVE CONTROL  Technically, this is the idea of adhering to socially constructed norms and values that are developed by the organizational members themselves as they strive to construct their environment  What does that REALLY mean?
  7. 7. COMMUNICATION IN CRITICAL THEORY  Jurgen Habermas  Ideal Speech Situation – participant and interaction are balanced.  Validity claims  Utterances are truthful  Legitimate relationship has been established between the participants  The utterances are sincere  The utterances are comprehensible Think about it! When, if ever, did you feel these validity claims were in place in an organization you were in?
  8. 8. COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY Read pages 119-120 of your text. What do you think about the monitoring of technology use described? Have you experienced anything similar?
  9. 9. USING CRITICAL THEORY  Create a more ―human(e)‖ workplace  Feminist organizational communication theorizing  Organizational spirituality  Organizational codes of ethics
  10. 10. HUMAN(E) WORKPLACE  Critical organizational theorists are dedicated to uncovering oppressive structural, technological, and communicative practices in organizations that most people accept as a natural part of work life.  The reality is that the oppression and oppressive circumstances exist often as a by-product of the manner in which organizations have classically been run.  Cheney‘s ―democracy‖ in the workplace Think about it: Workers tend to think that oppression is just a part of working – it just is a part of how work functions. Have you ever felt this way?
  11. 11. FEMINIST ORGANIZATIONAL THEORY  Feminist organizational theory is a form of critical theory that is dedicated to examining the oppressive circumstances experienced by women in the workplace.  Liberal feminists – people are differentiated on basis of sex and exist in a male-dominated structure where women are oppressed  Overcome by working with existing structure to gain equal opportunity for women  Materialist feminists – advance the idea that gender differences are socially constructed  Overcome by uprooting existing male-dominated power structure and equally distribute resources  Radical feminists – men and women should be separated as a way to resolve the imbalance between the sexes  Women hold superior biological and cultural qualities – they should separate themselves because they can operate at a higher level without male counterparts in the system These are COMPLEX ideas that are rather simplified here – explore more examples and details in your text
  12. 12. EQUITABLE POWER SHARING  Mattson and Buzzanell (1999) posit that feminist ethical approaches differ from others by focusing on "equitable power sharing and decision making" and insisting that "doing ethics" involves being an active participant in the struggle to maintain an ethical community (p. 62). 1. This perspective seeks to define the situation through examination of organizational members language choices, behaviors, and various aspects of the context to determine the (un)ethical nature of the situation. 2. Second, values and ideals serve to identify communicative action that violates the values of voice, community, and fairness. 3. Third, the value of fairness implies the equitable balance of power and resources. 4. Fourth, the ethical principle recognizes the importance of emotion in communicative behavior. 5. The final phase, development of a solution points to the need to constantly reevaluate options and solutions until an acceptable one is reached.
  13. 13. ORGANIZATIONAL SPIRITUALITY  In an effort to more fully embrace or endure their organizational lives, many members have begun to approach their work with a sense of spirituality.  Milliman et al. (2003) suggest three dimensions that make up organizational spirituality. 1. ―meaningful work‖ (individual level) 2. Interconnection, community (group level) 3. The organization's mission, values, and goals. (organizational level)
  14. 14. ORGANIZATIONAL ETHICS  Encourage members to have a voice in the development of a code of ethics  Usually a response to unethical behavior  May be coercive  Tries to standardize behavior Think about it: Please consider your MAJOR. Does your major area have a code of ethics? What do you know about it? Why does/doesn‘t your area have a code of ethics? Where do you find a code of ethics?
  15. 15. CRITICAL THEORY Apply these concepts to the organization you are studying this semester. How do you feel about critical theory? What are some limitations of the critical perspective?