Reading groups exist across such a wide variety of contexts and are perhaps so ubiquitous as to be almost ignored. In this article I will situate reading groups on the periphery of larger organisations, as sites for the creation of knowledge and subjectivity and consequently as ‘minor’ tools for organising. There is little to no existing literature that specifically deals with reading groups as organisational forms and this is therefore an exploratory article that aims to start to map out this field for further discussion and research.
This open issue is published against the background of a major global pandemic. The old ‘normal’ seems far away and undesirable, as a socio-ecological transformation becomes even more urgent. The contributions featured here scrutinize the current trends in the capitalist mode of production and envision the alternative organization of our societies. They examine new configurations of work, to which capital-led digitalization is often key, and ways to resist it. Attention is also paid to a fundamental rethinking of work, economy and care.
The editorial of this open issue of ephemera is written against the background of a major global pandemic. The disease known as COVID-19 is believed to have started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It rapidly spread across the world the following months, with various restrictive measures put into place to flatten the curve of contagion. Besides losses of lives globally, the pandemic has caused severe economic contraction on a historic scale (Hevia and Neumeyer, 2020).
The summer before embarking on my PhD study, I read Francesca Coin’s research note ‘On quitting’ (2017) with morbid fascination. Work and activism meant that I was aware of some of the issues academics faced before I returned to formal study. I knew that staff had struck that year over changes to their pension scheme, a dispute unofficially fuelled by:
The following paper takes a Žižekian perspective, refined by Alessia Contu, as its theoretical point of departure, as it critically engages with the idea of ‘decaf’ resistance. This term signifies a resistance, which has been deprived of its potentially dangerous main-ingredient, but is still experienced as the original ‘dangerous’ resistance, where both the resister and the resisted have something at stake (Žižek, 2003, 2004, 2010b; Contu, 2008).
It is increasingly evident that organizations and different processes of organizing are not neutral, inevitable or even necessary, but inherently political. As a discipline, Organization Studies is slowly becoming aware of that organizations are not entities that exist separately from material ecosystems or outside chains of exploitation of cheap labour and raw material. Instead, organizations are intimately entangled to, dependent upon and contributing to global forces such as the destruction of eco-systems, climate change, inequality and (neo-) colonialism.
The general aim of this volume is to rethink vulnerability both at the ontological and political level and in its multifaceted relations with resistance. It features a series of essays that engage with the topic from a variety of geopolitical contexts and theoretical perspectives. This variety is also reflected in the different polemical targets that range from the patriarchical coupling of vulnerability and passivity to the neoliberal understanding of resilience and the humanitarian discourse.
Recently there has been a discussion about the hardships of generating and maintaining the identity of ‘critical scholar’ in business schools while an alienating ‘game’ is upon us. As (particularly emerging) critical scholars argue about the difficulties of being outside of the mainstream and how the institutional mechanisms make things worse for them, they give voice in defence of the ‘critical’ work in business schools by telling personally how they confront with such challenges (Bristow, 2012; Cederström and Hoedemaekers, 2012; Prasad, 2013).
How is it that ratings activity and trading operations carried out in the plush offices of banks and investment institutions have an effect on unemployed, precarious, seasonal, occasional and temporary workers?
In a comedy sketch broadcast on Danish television, employees of a company are called in for a meeting in the company canteen. ‘Today I have good and bad news for you,’ announces the well-dressed female manager to the anxious employees, ‘The bad news is that, unfortunately, we have to reduce staff by 35 per cent’. The camera shows the fear in the employees’ faces before the manager continues: ‘The good news is that we have teamed up with the company clown from Companyclown.com, who is here to help us all through the difficult time’.