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‘Doublethink’ : The prevalence and function of contradiction in acccounts of organizational life
journal contributionposted on 23.01.2009, 12:13 authored by Amal El-Sawad, John 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.
This article was published in the journal, Human Relations [© The Tavistock Institute] and the definitive version is available at: http://hum.sagepub.com
- Business and Economics