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‘Doublethink’ : The prevalence and function of contradiction in acccounts of organizational life

journal contribution
posted on 23.01.2009, 12:13 by Amal El-Sawad, John ArnoldJohn Arnold, Laurie Cohen
Those engaged in conducting qualitative research frequently acknowledge the presence of contradiction in their data. However, within the organization studies literature little attention is paid to teasing out these contradictions and subjecting them to critical analysis. This article advances our knowledge of contradiction in accounts of organizational life. Drawing on new empirical evidence from a qualitative interview study of employees working in a large blue-chip corporation, we critically assess a number of instances of contradiction or ‘doublethink’ within this particular organizational setting. We challenge the assumption underpinning much of the existing literature that individuals are uncomfortable with contradiction and seek to resolve it whenever it arises. We argue that doublethink provides a means of containing contradiction such that it is neither acknowledged as contradiction nor experienced as uncomfortable. We consider the findings in relation to notions of role positions which reflect/constitute different ways of ordering an individual’s experience, the mobilization of an overarching idiom to ‘contain’ the contradiction, and the privileging of practice over reflexivity.

Funding

This article was published in the journal, Human Relations [© The Tavistock Institute] and the definitive version is available at: http://hum.sagepub.com

History

School

  • Business and Economics

Department

  • Business

Citation

EL-SAWAD, A., ARNOLD, J. and COHEN, L., 2004. ‘Doublethink’: The prevalence and function of contradiction in acccounts of organizational life. Human Relations, 57 (9), pp. 1179–1203

Publisher

Sage / © The Tavistock Institute

Version

NA (Not Applicable or Unknown)

Publication date

2004

ISBN

1741-282X

ISSN

0018-7267

Language

en