Euphemism, Spin, and the Crisis in Organizational Life

Euphemism, Spin, and the Crisis in Organizational Life

Euphemism, Spin, and the Crisis in Organizational Life

Euphemism, Spin, and the Crisis in Organizational Life

Synopsis

In this seminal examination of how organizations behave, Stein exposes the mystifying language of workplace downsizing, restructuring, reengineering, managed care, and community disaster. His book is about deception, about the veiling of intention through propaganda, and how these efforts to conceal, misstate, and misrepresent build on euphemism. It shows how the work of euphemism--embodied in what has come to be called "spin"--serves as a foundation for much of the thinking and action taking place today in organizations. More than an academic contribution to the study of cultural, psychological, and organizational linguistics, this book shows the immense destructiveness underlying an ingrained vocabulary that sanitizes the horror of destruction. Stein examines words and networks of words, and the resulting worlds of meaning and motivation. The result is a powerful statement for anyone interested in how we group ourselves into organizations, how we behave in them, and the damage that organizational spin can,do to us.

Excerpt

This is a book about wizards who do not change lead into gold but, more profoundly, change evil into good. This book is about the art form behind the magic of the wizardry, the spinning of a web of mind- and reality-altering words that change the very nature of what we know and how we experience ourselves, others and events. Stein provides us a patiently developed and thorough analysis of what amounts to a verbal cleansing of awareness, motives, and actions of the darker--indeed, at times, darkest--side of human nature. He challenges us to listen to what we say and hear the true meaning of the words. He asks us what it really does mean to pursue organizational downsizing and provide managed health care. He uncomfortably, but accurately, reveals that the use of euphemisms such as these is not really much different from the euphemisms used by the Nazi German state to dehumanize and then systematically exterminate millions of Jews as well as other "unfit" individuals and races in their pursuit of ethnic purity.

This book makes clear that the verbal sleight of hand involved in the business world is so omnipresent as to not only go unnoticed but much of the time be embraced as buzz words. As I read, I was reminded of "Neutron" Jack, a CEO of a large international corporation who eliminates the people, leaving only the buildings standing, as would be the . . .

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