Academic journal article Tamara : Journal of Critical Postmodern Organization Science

The Mouse Is Mightier Than a Lion: Should TAMARA Be a Science or a Pomo Poetic Aesthetic?

Academic journal article Tamara : Journal of Critical Postmodern Organization Science

The Mouse Is Mightier Than a Lion: Should TAMARA Be a Science or a Pomo Poetic Aesthetic?

Article excerpt

Part one - Preface

This discussion piece sets the tone for this new journal in its narrative presentation form. It will run over two issues and is open to include feedback from readers. In debating the case for TAMARA to represent either a) a postmodern science approach to organisational analysis or b) a postmodern aesthetic appreciation, the two participants reflect on the relevance of critical theory to their life and work. Hence rather than the intellectual exchange taking place in a disembodied form, they situate their intellectual history via issues of social location and lived experience. They reflect on the integral connection between theory and practice with the objective of furthering their commitment to effecting social change.

The first short article takes the form of initially introducing the authors and then moves to a discussion of the role of critical pedagogy. The detailed references to teaching content are broached in order to demonstrate the efficacy of critical analysis for pedagogical purposes; not to focus on the relative achievement of the individual lecturers involved. The second longer article entails a debate of central relevance to the Journal, addressing: what type of orientation a critical postmodern analysis of organisational politics might take? The discussion begins with a dialogue between the two protagonists on the pros and cons of adopting a scientific approach. The focus then switches to situating the plurality of postmodernism; analysing the 'affirmative' versus 'sceptical' opposition. The contribution of the 'White French Pomo Boys' is interrogated in relation to the late modernist thesis. Finally, Boje proposes an eclectic integration between modernist and postmodernist influences in the name of 'narrative ethics'. Bissett responds, outlining the dilemmas of employing unreconstructed narratives. She deconstructs the notion of the aesthetic as a modernist cultural category, in order to propose a postmodern 'political poetic' alternative.

Introductory biographies

Bissett: In typical postmodern style, this piece is an eclectic mix of issues. As a feminist I find it problematic to talk about my work divorced from my life. I am a trans-disciplinary trained social and political theorist (as a critical postmodernist I avoid the label social scientist) who has studied and taught in a range of countries (e.g. Britain, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia). My Ph.D. was a `big picture' analysis exploring the transition from modernism to postmodernism. I critiqued what I saw as a premature celebration of the 'death' of scientific rationalism and attempted to demonstrate how, as a hegemonic meaning system, it still dominates our daily existence. I drew connections between the production of knowledge, power processes and social relations through reference to a number of research accounts.

Boje: When I did my dissertation, news of the postmodern had not yet reached the University of Illinois. My Ph.D. training was in phenomenology (my mentor Lou Pondy was into it and so was I), and trying to articulate social definitionism (a term by Ritzer that did not catch on once social construction became the fashion), while getting all that behavioral leadership, lab study, and structural functionalist science from the rest of the faculty. Postmodernism became my passion in the early 1990s, at first affirmative, and now like you, more into critical postmodernism (labels do oppress).

Bissett: Integrating feminist cultural analysis with a sociology of knowledge perspective, I chose two specific areas in the thesis to substantiate my claims. Examining the politics of the body vis-a-vis representations of gender in everyday life, and postFordist workplace change depictions, I ascertained that both theory and practice were still enacted in the shadow of rationalism. I concluded by deliberating on a range of feminist poststructuralist approaches that attempt to move beyond rationality

Boje: I too examine the relationship of post Fordist and poststructuralism/postmodern theory and practice. …

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