Critically evaluate Collinson’s (2003: 541) claim that “corporations provide economic remuneration and they also confer identities and meanings. Equally, they can generate considerable employee insecurity and anxiety, particularly through disciplinary regimes that erode trust relations.” In your essay, include insights drawn from this module.
Collinson, D. (2003) ‘Identities and insecurities: Selves at work.’ Organization, 10(3): 527-547.
In order to approach this question, you should read the article carefully to see what he argues, and think how this relates to the themes we have covered in the module so far.
These themes have all been related to the different psychological assumptions that management practices can be based on. We have looked at two main sets of assumptions, the humanist view of the mind and the mechanistic/behaviourist view of the mind. Lecture 1 discussed the former, lecture 2 looked at the historical context of the latter and lecture 3 discussed the theoretical basis for the latter. Lectures 4 and 5 deal with the context and meaning of the Human Relations movement, and its effect on contemporary management. This concerns, by and large, the humanist inheritance of modern management practice. When reading the article, consider how these themes are of relevance to what Collinson is saying.
The question asks you to critically evaluate Collinson’s statement. The statement addresses how the management of people in organisations gives them meaning within their working lives, but also how organisations can impose themselves in ways that are not directly beneficial to them. In his article, Collinson gives a very comprehensive overview of ways in which this may happen.
As part of your critical evaluation you should:
This is very widely cited article, which is considered a major contribution to thinking about individuals in the workplace. In it, Collinson reviews a wide variety of research contributions that look at how people sense of themselves is affected by aspects of work, organization, and management.
Collinson picks up on aspects around gender, insecurity and resistance in particular. He argues that in their attempt to manage people, organization exert a shaping influence on the identities of people. He takes a critical approach and argues that a considerable part of this approach is aimed at intensifying labour. In addition, he argues that such managerial approaches have the effect of creating a fundamental insecurity at the heart of people’s sense of self, which can be leveraged by organisations to further leverage their work efforts. He argues that this results in some forms of alienation from a more authentic, self-authored sense of self. But he also acknowledged that people can be creative and resourceful, and resist such efforts at times.
Your own argument
A critical evaluation implies that you critique Collinson’s argument. This means that you have to form an opinion of what he is saying, by examining the evidence he brings to the table and drawing on evidence of your own (i.e. academic sources) to support your own position. There are many different options here, and it really comes down to what your line of thinking is.
Some lines of argument could include:
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