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From care of the self to care for the other: neglected aspects of Foucault's late work

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Purpose ‐ This conceptual paper aims to elucidate and explore the implications for critical accounting and management of some of the ethical dimensions of Foucault's thought, hitherto comparatively neglected by critical scholars. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Foucault's late works are read as offering a view of the cultivation of ethical agency through the work of the self on the self, through care of the self, which at least implicitly gives priority to care for the other. This notion of moral agency is situated in the context of the broad spectrum of Foucault's influence on critical accounting and management thought, and its significance for professional responsibility in the workplace is explored. Findings ‐ It was found that the accounting and management scholarship that has drawn on Foucault's work on care of the self tends to marginalize its ethical dimension, in particular by neglecting the role of openness to, and responsibility for, the other, in the processes of ethical self-creation. Originality/value ‐ It is emphasised that in his later works Foucault puts responsiveness to difference and responsibility for the other at the centre of his ethical project of the self, and it is argued that this opening up of the moral dimension in his work has the potential to enrich the ways in which critical scholarship addresses issues such as professional agency and responsibility, identity politics, and governance in the workplace.

Keywords: Professional ethics; Responsibilities

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-03-29

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