chapter  6
21 Pages

The Revolt Against Cultural Authority: Power/Knowledge as an Assumption in Organization Theory

WithSteven P. Feldman

This chapter examines the view of modern culture and management and the power/knowledge framework as they are used in the writings of critical and postmodern organization theorists in terms of their ethical and cultural implications. It deals with how the past is viewed, how moral boundaries are treated, and what relationship the individual has to the group. The chapter shows that the original impulse of Enlightenment thinking—an attack on patriarchal authority—has been broadened out to an attack on authority in any possible form. Indeed, in critical organization theory, cultural authority is seen as totalitarian oppression, suffocating its central goals of individual empowerment and democratic process in organizations. The power/knowledge framework of systemic power relations thus appears to capture the pervasiveness of power, but without acknowledging the historical loss of cultural authority that created this situation. The power/knowledge concept is based on the idea of organized activity as a “unitary flow”.