Religion, Theology, and the Human Sciences

By Richard H. Roberts | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Power and empowerment: New Age managers
and the dialectics of modernity/postmodernity

In succeeding chapters1 we have moved from the global, grandiose worldhistorical discourse of Francis Fukuyama through the routinisation of the enterprise culture and the evolution of Thatcherism, and the emergence of the so-called Third Way in the exemplary local culture of Britain to the insider-outsider microculture of management and, more precisely, to the kernel of the latter in the small but highly empowered world of the management consultant. Thus in chapter 3 the argument focuses upon the dynamics of the new managerial imperative and upon the clarification of the psycho-spiritual hermeneutics deployed in the interpretation and control of the subtle interface between discipline and rewards, between 'hard' and 'soft' cultures, and between controlling and being controlled that falls to the consultant. Given the ever-extending remit of the managerialism that succeeds J. A. Schumpeter's triad of capitalism, socialism and democracy,2 this new hegemony is not confined to the workplace, for the frontiers between public and private spheres have been weakened, especially for those whose training, skills and expertise once accorded them professional or quasi-professional status. The 'degradation of work' now extends beyond the realm of the craft or skilled worker to include a wide range of human services: the headworker salariat is now undergoing incorporation into neo-proletarian status. In attaining this ingestion the new spirit of capitalism does not, however, leave untouched the realm of spiritual intimacy: the prerogative of informed human resources management now extends to the 'love', the 'heart' and even the 'soul' of everyone and everything it touches.

____________________
1
This chapter originated as a paper prepared in the context of the project Religion and the Resurgence of Capitalism which I coordinated in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Lancaster (1989–91). The paper was first published as 'Power and Empowerment: New Age Managers and the Dialectics of Modernity/Postmodernity', Religion Today, 9/3 (1994), 3–13.
2
See W. F. Enteman, Managerialism: The Emergence of a New Ideology (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993).

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