The Day of the Rally : An ethnographic study of 'ceremony as resistance' and 'resistance as ceremony'

McCabe, Darren (2019) The Day of the Rally : An ethnographic study of 'ceremony as resistance' and 'resistance as ceremony'. Organization, 26 (2). pp. 255-275. ISSN 1350-5084

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The literature on organisational culture suggests that ceremonies or rituals reinforce control. By contrast, this article contributes to the literature on resistance, culture and ceremony by arguing that ceremony can also be understood as a form of resistance. It does so through drawing on ethnographic research, first, to explore how a ceremonial 1-day rally during an academic dispute was productive for frontline employee resistance (ceremony as resistance). Second, it considers how such resistance can also be productive in generating consent, for it is infused with and reproduces established norms, subjectivities and power relations (resistance as ceremony). Finally, it is asserted that resistance can be productive in fostering a subjectivity characterised by stability and instability and so practices such as a rally are necessary to try to stabilise both the organisation and the subjectivity of resistance. The article therefore illustrates the ambiguity of productive resistance which has been neglected to date. These insights and arguments indicate that all forms of workplace resistance are decaf, for they are imbued with the context and norms through which they arise. Nevertheless, resistance remains dangerous for those in positions of authority because it means that power is never totalising and so outcomes continue to be uncertain.

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Journal Article
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Organization, 26 (2), 2019, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2019 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Social Psychological and Personality Science page: on SAGE Journals Online:
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?? ceremonyconsentcontrolcultureethnographypowerresistanceritualsubjectivitybusiness, management and accounting(all)strategy and managementmanagement of technology and innovation ??
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13 Jul 2020 15:45
Last Modified:
16 Dec 2023 01:32