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Abjection and Alterity in the Workplace

An ESRC Seminar Series Commencing May 2008  

Abjection and alterity refers to those aspects of organizational life which are deemed, in one way or another, not to 'fit in with' or 'belong to' the established idea of the rational and productive workplace. As such, we are concerned with exploring the status of what one might term the various 'Others' of organization and the kinds of relationships they engender either as subjects of exclusion or, indeed, attempts at inclusion - i.e.real life experiences of unequal power and resource allocation, equality and /or diversity management, and treatment and representation.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and organized by Professor Joanna Brewis (University of Leicester), Dr Philip Hancock (University of Warwick), Professor Stephen Linstead (University of York) and Dr Melissa Tyler (Loughborough University) this series of four seminars focuses, therefore, on the relationship between work, organization, and abjection. Although limited to a maximum of 25 people per seminar, participation is free. We are also providing £100 bursaries to assist with travel costs for 10 PhD students per seminar.

Each seminar will aim to bring together scholars, practitioners and policy makers who have an interest in, or experience of, processes and practices which construct certain individuals or groups at work as somehow different, and how this attribution of difference defines the nature of the relationship they have with the organization itself, as well as with colleagues and clients. The series has been designed to incorporate theoretical and empirical academic work and policy/practice-based material, with the intention of synthesizing our knowledge and understanding of this important aspect of contemporary working life. Although this list is not exhaustive, specific themes open for discussion during the series include:

The nature of abjection and alterity and their relevance to the study of workplace relations and the wider labour market

The methodological challenges of exploring and writing about such themes, particularly within an organizational setting

 The ways in which abjection and alterity are represented and lived out in organizational contexts

The impact of shifting working patterns on the demands made on employees to embody particular modes of self-presentation

The political implications of contesting forms of social and organizational legislation that perpetuate and/or contain abjection

How Legislation, regulation and policy interventions, designed to reduce discriminatory practices at work, might contribute to or moderate processes of personal and cultural abjection


Further details of these events, including speakers, can be found through the pages of this website or by contacting one of the seminar organizers directly (see Seminar Organizers link). If you are interested in attending one of the seminars, please fill in and submit the electronic registration form (see Seminar Registration link). The relevant organizer will then contact you directly.