Disrupting boundaries : rethinking organisation and embodiment
This thesis attempts to disrupt the boundaries of how we think about organisation and embodiment. From an investigation into five organisational regimes of Western public health, it argues that the body is a problem for organisation. The body does not come ready organised, but is a nonorganisational, messy and carnal matter of flesh and blood, pains and pleasures, habits and desires. Although modem discourses and institutions seek to organise how we live with our bodies in everyday life, they never do so fully and completely. Bodies are powerful, creative and unpredictable and disrupt the boundaries of organisation. Asking how organisation theory deals with the problem of the body, the thesis seeks to take the discipline further by developing an approach to how it should deal with the body, and by identifying what implications this might have for our thinking about organisation. Utilising the conceptualist philosophy of Canguilhem, Foucault and Deleuze, this is done by analysing the concept of "organisation" and the concept of the "body" across organisation theory and related fields. Five ways of dealing with the body are identified: (i) not dealing with it at all, which is mostly the case with mainstream research on formal organisations and more radical research on organisational processes; (ii) reducing the body to an organismic metaphor, which is what much classical and some contemporary mainstream research does; (iii) studying how embodiment enables the successful management of formal organisations; (iv) studying how bodies are organised within and without formal organisations; and (v) studying nonorganisational embodiment, i.e. how bodies disrupt and exist independently of organisation. Whereas the third and fourth themes have been investigated in some organisation theory, little attempt has been made to think about nonorganisational embodiment. Using material in Deleuze, Foucault, feminism and current organisation theory, this thesis appreciates the ways in which bodies disrupt the boundaries of organisation and the ways in which bodies live under the conditions imposed by these boundaries. From this perspective, organisation is less powerful, less stable and more fragile than we often think, and bodies are more powerful, more dynamic and more creative. This conceptualist interest in organisation, nonorganisation and the body gives rise to a theory and philosophy of organisation that might provide the underpinnings of a radical approach to everyday problems of organisation and embodiment, such as aesthetic labour and impression management; virtual organisations; culture, subcultures and resistance at work and in public space; health and safety; and gender, race and sexuality.