In a world of increasing artifice, instrumentalisation and manipulation, authenticity has become a premier cultural value sought by individuals and organisations alike. This slippery concept has emerged as the apparent cure-all for many a contemporary predicament. With a search for authenticity as a part of many everyday activities, organisations, and capitalist businesses in particular, endeavour to align their interests with personal pursuits for truth, meaning and solid grounds to stand on. This is discernible in strategies used by political parties, in management practices in the workplace and in attributes emphasised in the sales and marketing of commodities in the marketplace. Thus authenticity itself has been turned into a useful instrument for nearly any cause. This special issue charts various functions that authenticity today plays in and across the spheres of politics, economy, society and everyday life. The contributions detail how authenticity is contestable, that is, how it operates not only as a correlate of emancipation but also as an instrument of domination, taking aim at the heart of the subject.