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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Psychoanalysis and the politics of organizational theory

Author: Cooper, Andrew
Author Background:
Date 9/1/98
Type Journal
Journal Title: Group-Analysis
Volume/Pages 1998 Sep; Vol 31(3): 283-296
Subject Matter Interpersonal and Social Intervention
Abstract This article enquires into the absence of any relationship between the psychoanalytic tradition of organizational theory and the mainstream sociology of institutions and organizations. The importance of a fuller engagement between psychoanalytic and sociological understandings of organizational life is explored with reference to the intersection between socially constructed defences in social work and the wider political climate of attacks on the profession. Open systems theory is most often deployed within the psychoanalytic tradition to conceptualize the interplay between organizations and their social environment. Thus, the article argues that there is an implicit sociology within psychoanalytic theorizations of organizational life, but that a fuller engagement with available and compatible social theory would both enrich and problematize this body of work. This potential is examined in relation to some of the work of Talcott Parsons, which in turn reveals the reductionist tendencies in the psychoanalytic tradition of organizational theory. ((c) 1999 APA/PsycINFO, all rights reserved)