Some time ago I was invited to review “Free Speech. Ten principles for a connected world” written by the British historian and writer Timothy Garton Ash. The review has now been published in the journal Organization Studies. The full text is available at the journal’s website. Here is a brief excerpt of my review.
Although the book is almost encyclopaedic, its main aim is not simply to represent the freedom of speech debate and its various positions, but to intervene in the world and to contribute to its transformation. It “invites a conversation about free speech” (p. 142), develops, promotes and defends a liberal position, and proposes principles of how to organize our relations in the “mixed up, connected world as city” (p. 19), that Ash calls “cosmopolis”. In this “crowded world”, he argues, “we must learn to navigate by speech” (p. 4). For students of organization, the book offers many points of entry for reflecting on the current conditions of organizing and its relation to free speech. How do organizations influence, control, and limit what we can say? What are the forms of power that shape and organize what we can say and see in and through the internet? What are the transformative potentials of organizing created by the affordances of the internet? (How) can “free speech” be organized, given that any form of organizing implies closure and exclusions? What are the organizing principles for a self-governing community, in which the principles of “free speech” can be actualized?
The internet has fundamentally transformed life in general and the conditions of communication in particular. It not only offers new possibilities of “free speech”, but also reveals its fundamental ambivalence. “[N]ever in human history was there such a chance for freedom of expression as this. And never have the evils of unlimited free expression – death threats, paedophile images, sewage-tides of abuse – flowed so easily across frontiers” (p. 127). Unknown freedoms of expression and unprecedented forms of control and surveillance coexist and create an ambivalent space of experience.
In case you are interested and your institution doesn’t have access to the full-text, I would be happy to send it to you via e-mail.
Together with fellow issue editors Randi Heinrichs and Bernadette Loacker, I am inviting contributions to an ephemera special issue on “Speaking truth to power? The ethico-politics of whistleblowing in contemporary mass-mediated economy” (PDF). From the Call for Papers:
[T]his special issue situates the experience of whistleblowing in the context of contemporary discourses and practices, such as security, transparency and accountability, and is thereby particularly interested in the exploration of the ethical and political dimensions and implications of practices of whistleblowing. It raises the question of who is considered to be qualified to blow the whistle, under which conditions, about what, in what forms, with what consequences, and with what relation to power (Foucault, 2001). How is the figure of the whistleblower socially and discursively constructed and is there, for example, a specific relation to gender, race and class implied? How and at what cost do whistleblowers as political actors constitute themselves as ethical subjects, capable of taking risks and posing a challenge, capable of governing themselves and of governing others? Moreover, why are we suddenly faced with a boom of whistleblowing and an intensified ‘problematisation’ of the phenomenon in so-called digital cultures? Or, from another perspective, for which social, political, legal and also technical difficulties is whistleblowing the answer?
Deadline for submissions is March 31, 2018. All contributions should be submitted to one of the issue editors: Randi Heinrichs (randi.heinrichs AT leuphana.de), Bernadette Loacker (b.loacker AT lancaster.ac.uk), Richard Weiskopf (richard.weiskopf AT uibk.ac.at). Please note that three categories of contributions are invited for the special issue: articles, notes, and reviews. Information about these types of contributions can be found at: http://www.ephemerajournal.org/how-submit. The submissions will undergo a double-blind review process. All submissions should follow ephemera’s submission guidelines (see the ‘Abc of formatting’ guide in particular). For further information, please contact me or one of the other special issue editors.
Ein Veranstaltungshinweis für alle, die sich für (Anti)Diskriminierung interessieren. Aus der Einladung zur Veranstaltung (PDF):
Diskriminierung bedeutet Abgrenzung, Abwertung und Ausgrenzung von Anderen. In der Revue THE OTHERS OF THE OTHERS, die Stephan Bruckmeier und Margit Niederhuber im Auftrag der Gleichbehandlungsanwaltschaft mit dem Hope Theatre Nairobi produziert haben, findet eine Auseinandersetzung mit Diskriminierungsthemen statt – gespielt, gesungen und getanzt.
In Innsbruck gastiert die Revue am 16.10.2017 um 19 Uhr im VIER UND EINZIG, Hallerstraße 41. Anmeldung ist erforderlich unter email@example.com bis 9. Oktober 2017.
The article by Yvonne Tobias-Miersch and myself on whistleblowing as a critical practice has been accepted for publication in Organization Studies and is now available online. Check out the abstract here:
In this paper, we develop an approach to the study of whistleblowing as a critical practice that is involved in the contestation of truth and power in the workplace. We situate our analysis in the context of practice-based thinking and specify the social practice of whistleblowing with reference to Michel Foucault’s concept of ‘parrhesia’ (frank speech). We then introduce the case of Guido Strack, a former European Union official who worked as section leader at the Office des Publications Officielles des Communautés Européenne from 1995 to 2002. Strack spoke out against malpractice in the EU in 2001 and officially reported alleged financial misconduct in 2002. In our analysis, we focus on the interplay between and effects of different modes of truth-telling in the context of this specific organization – a context marked by the uneasy coexistence of different normative and discursive frames. We argue that the parrhesiastic modality of truth-telling threatens the established ‘working solutions’ that reconcile the tensions inherent in the regime of practices and thus introduces a ‘critical opening’ that harbours the potential for both personal and organizational transformation. We conclude by highlighting the potential of a nuanced understanding of parrhesia for studying ‘critical practices’ more generally.
In case you or your institution does not have access to the publication, I would be happy to provide you a copy of the article via e-mail.