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Contemplation and the ‘Performative Absolute’: submission and identity in managerial modernity

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Practices derived from the ‘vita contemplativa’ and other spiritual sources are drawn upon by management, but as the power of human resources management (HRM) is extended so the relationship between ‘contemplation’ and the surrender of self-identity required by HRM demands critical examination. The conscious construction of the individual has become a social and political goal. Subjects are required to strip away attributes of their identity that might impede protocols that cascade down from the executive. Total transparency becomes a condition of the re-creation of individual identity. Practices drawn from religious and spiritual traditions that enact the surrender of the self facilitate submission to the demands of the Performative Absolute, the immanent sublime, Demiurge or dieu caché articulated by HRM. The informed passivity of the employee precedes oblation, the sacrificial offering of the self that facilitates the donation by HRM of the attuned identity that ensures the organisational survival of the individual.
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Keywords: HRM; contemplative practice; identity; submission; ‘Performative Absolute’

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Stirling, Stirling, UK.

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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