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Designing leadership chairs: Experiments with affirmative critique of leadership and environmentality

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Abstract

Through a methodology of having students ‘design’ leadership chairs, we investigate how contemporary leadership and governing operate by orchestrating affects and strategically shaping the physical environment in order to transform and shape intensities, desires, atmospheres, and social relations. By presenting a pedagogical framing as ‘a posthuman sensorium’, with its design of leadership chairs and art of conversation, we invite engagement with dilemmas and problems of contemporary organizing processes as a careful affirmative critique .

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... An affirmative stance rejects a researcher subject placed outside the phenomenon of interest (Andersen, 2018). It thus rejects a 'critiquing from a distance' approach (Juelskjaer and Staunaes, 2016). This is in line with Bunz et al. (2017a), who urge for a more 'embodied form of critique' (p. ...
... Affirmative critique invites entrepreneurship scholars to explore, experiment, and take risks (Hjorth, 2017). It encourages scholars to become a 'binding force' for societal production (Rindova et al., 2009;Calás et al., 2018) rather than critiquing their object of inquiry from a distance (Juelskjaer and Staunaes, 2016). As such, affirmatively critical treatises are from the inside rather than the outside and are offered by people who have taken it upon themselves to ground the foundational assumptions of what they are criticizing thoroughly. ...
Thesis
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Entrepreneurship is generally reduced to the economic logic, wherein entrepreneurs are mainly venerated as protagonists of the national economy. Entrepreneurship is equated to job creation, enhanced competitiveness, and wealth creation. This persistent conception neglects other aspects of entrepreneurship, including its broader implications for society and its members. Reflecting on these considerations, this dissertation builds upon the critical entrepreneurship research tradition that has aimed to uncouple entrepreneurship from the dominant (economic) logic, to pave the way for a more comprehensive and nuanced view of entrepreneurship (e.g., Calás et al., 2009; Weiskopf and Steyaert, 2009; Verduijn and Essers, 2013). It adopts a critical stance to effectively generate yet more space for social and societal considerations of entrepreneurship and hereby puts entrepreneurship at work for generating new possibilities of living. The chapters are not crafted to discredit entrepreneurship from its economic gravity but are critical to reducing entrepreneurship when various alternative perspectives are relevant as well. As such, this dissertation contributes to a more nuanced portrayal of entrepreneurship, which acknowledges the phenomenon’s multifacetedness and serves as a foundation for new insights in entrepreneurship. The chapters in this dissertation thus take a critical stance to explore entrepreneurship alternatives, particularly related to social change. Chapter 1 establishes the critical approach of this dissertation and offers an introduction to affirmative critique. Critical work is deemed necessary to challenge common assumptions of entrepreneurship and open up to new perspectives of the phenomenon. However, critique is commonly enacted as a gesture of negativity and a position ‘against’ entrepreneurship (Dey and Steyaert, 2018). This limits the ability of current critical research to fully understand entrepreneurship against the established literature that equates the phenomenon to economic logic. The chapter adopts and builds on a different way of doing critique, emphasizing what alternatives of entrepreneurship can be enacted when departing from an affirmatively critical stance. This step is deemed necessary towards moving away from the hegemonic allure given to entrepreneurship such that it becomes possible to see how alternatives of entrepreneurship may be enacted. Chapters 2 and 3 offer reflections and insights about discursive patterns and their ideological workings. The critical discursive studies reveal how dominant entrepreneurship discourses, mainly produced and reflected by media and policy texts, lessen the space for alternatives by reducing the phenomenon to a (too) limited account. The findings show that entrepreneurship is mainly reduced to economic considerations, whereas social issues are hardly associated with the entrepreneurship discourse. A limited reflection of entrepreneurship’s multiple perspectives in media and policy texts may signal and result in a limited and distorted understanding of the phenomenon. Relatedly, instead of simply uncovering (and critiquing) discourses that manifest entrepreneurship’s liaison with the economic logic, chapter 4 further explores what is meant by entrepreneurship’s capacity to produce new possibilities of living. It offers insights into one possible alternative that may emerge when rethinking entrepreneurship beyond the dominant narratives that mainly reduce the phenomenon to economic logic, namely: how we can leverage entrepreneurship to put craft at work for the emancipation of marginalized communities so that actual social change can be enacted and sustained.
... Traditional feminist methods such as memory work, auto-ethnography and poetry are being rediscovered. Apps and drawing programs are invented, technologies like brain scanners, sphygmographs measuring blood pressure and methods that connote different and perhaps more 'scientistic' paradigms are being re-theorized, and, occasionally, the laboratory and its experiments are being re-worked as a posthuman sensorium transgressing positivist notions of knowledge (Juelskjaer and Staunaes, 2016). Nevertheless, despite this development, non-representational methodologies of the lived empirical remain understudied in the research field (Knudsen and Stage, 2015). ...
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Responding to Guattari’s call for a ‘mutation of mentality’, the article explores unconventional horse-assisted leadership learning as promising ways of embodied learning to be affected and response-able. By drawing on and continuing the work of Guattari and posthuman feminist scholars, we aim to show that studying the affective pedagogics of opening up the senses and learning to be affected is of vital importance. We analyse a posthuman auto-ethnography of developing capabilities to live and breathe together that allow us to relate in alternative ways. Experiments with affective pedagogy are conducted as they affect bodies through indeterminate and liminal contact zones and use aesthetics to evoke transformation in senses and thoughts, care and response. Since they are both domesticated and non-human, horses are promising companions in this endeavour of entrainment. However, these sensorial experiments also call for an ethics of cutting connections and, not least, of permitting refusals of refusals.
... This connects to the earlier presented understanding of the subject in an ontology of difference. As posed by Juelskjaer and Staunaes (2016), affirmative critique is not about critiquing from a distance but to 'become sensitive to the sensorium' (p. 48) we are of. ...
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The focus of this article is affirmative critique, its ontological grounding, and a record of an attempt to perform an affirmative critical analysis with documented strange race-things. It is inspired by the debate on limitations of Enlightened critical practice, and writings on a proposed alternative; affirmative critique (Braidotti, 2011, 2013). Grounded in an ontology of difference, affirmative critique suggests to affirm and create other ways of speaking and living to ‘push power a little’ (Bunz, Kaiser, & Thiele, 2017a, p. 16). Further, it is argued that this might be a more transformative mode than the traditional Enlightened critique informing decades of multitudes of politics, perspectives and practices offered to work against how race is stubbornly becoming in unjust ways. The affirmative critical analysis performed is an experimentation with a print of a photographic image; an art-ing with data.
... Og for klarhetens skyld og de privilegier, lovnader farer og risiko som følger med. Det innebaerer, som allerede nevnt, bevegelser fra kunnskapsutvikling forstått som hermeneutikk til bekrefting i immanens (Deleuze og Guattari, 2004a;Braidotti, 2013;Juelskjaer og Staunaes, 2016;MacLure, 2015;Reinertsen, 2009Reinertsen, , 2016a. Et fokus på laeringsrike muligheter på livets og naturens egne premisser og immanente laerings-og vurderingspraksiser, eller mer presist her: immanente poetiserende ledelsespraksiser (Reinertsen, 2016b;Reinertsen og Rossholt, 2016). ...
Book
Ledelse og poesi er en bok som har en eksperimenterende form. Teori, fortellinger fra praksis, dikt, utdrag fra romaner, vitser, eventyr og fabuleringer er skrevet sammen lag på lag. Boka kan leses fra begynnelse til slutt eller omvendt. Man kan begynne hvor som helst og mange ganger. Man kan godt lese midt i først. Kanskje er et dikt mandag morgen nok for å tenke videre med hele uka? Målet er å åpent engasjere og involvere leseren i tanker om ledelse for kvalitet i barnehagen, og slik forfatterne ser det; ledelse for rettferdighet. Boka har som målsetting å se pedagogikk i et utvidet og affektivt perspektiv og setter indirekte spørsmål ved det fokuset vi i dag har på identitetskonstruksjon og autonomi og beveger seg i retning av større fokus på tilhørighet og kollektivitet. Boka er slik også et innlegg i den profesjon- og kompetansediskusjonen som barnehage og skole er inne i i dag og systemtenkingens paradokser. Begrepet skriving er viktig og sprenger åpent analytiske kategorier og dikotomier som for eksempel skille mellom natur/kultur, menneske/ikke menneske, hode/kropp, teori/praksis, reell/virtuell, bevisst/ubevisst og så videre: Alle slags mulige relasjoner... Viktigst er progresjon i arbeidet gjennom et utvidet og nyansert kunnskapsgrunnlag. Vi har kalt boka en spekulativ filosofisk bok og vi beveger oss vitenskapelig sett fra den språklige til den ontologiske vendingen i forskning og utvikling. Tenking som det verden består av. Boka er tverr - eller snarere transvitenskapelig og et forsøk på å se pedagogikk som et natur-, samfunns- og kunstfag samtidig.
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This case study investigates the affective governing of young unemployed people, and it concludes that getting money in the Danish welfare state comes with an “affective price”. In the quest for a job, unemployed people have been increasingly responsibilized in order to live up to the ideal of the active jobseeker. Consequently, when faced with unemployment, they are encouraged to work harder on themselves and their motivation. Based on an interview study with young unemployed people (N=39) and field observations made at employment fund agencies in Denmark (2014–15), I explore how young unemployed people are governed by and through their emotions. By supplementing governmentality studies (Foucault et al. 1988, 2010) with the concept of “affective economy” from Ahmed (2014), I discuss how young unemployed people who receive money from the Danish state are placed in a situation of debt. The paper unfolds how this debt becomes visible as the unemployed people often describe feeling under suspicion for not doing enough, for not being motivated enough. Through an abundance of (pro) activity, they have to prove the suspicion of being lazy wrong, and through managing themselves as active jobseekers, they earn the right to get money from the state. Here motivation, passion and empowerment are key currencies. I discuss the intricate interplay between monetary and affective currencies as well as political implications in the context of the Danish welfare. The article contributes by making visible the importance of taking affective matters into account when investigating the complex relationship between politics and psychology.
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The aim of this paper is to map a line of theorizing affect and its entanglement with post-truth, and use this theorization to think about what it could mean for the role of educators—that is, what can be done in education to respond critically to the affective infrastructures of post-truth politics? This question arises at a historical juncture of widespread views that post-truth politics create an urgency for reframing post-truth experiences as productive pedagogical engagements. The paper draws on affect theory to show how the affective grounding of post-truth claims works to govern our subjectivities and how emotions matter in constructing certain truths that reproduce social and political evils such as racism, sexism and xenophobia. The analysis shows how this nuanced understanding of affect, governmentality and post-truth can be helpful in educational settings to respond critically to post-truth politics, while paying attention to risks emerging from moralization or indoctrination.
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to contribute to recent work that interrogates the affective conditions in standardizing processes taking place in schools by asking: what are the relations between affect and biopower, when standardizing processes take place in schools, and how can we better understand the constitution of affective spaces and atmospheres that enable some transformative potentials while preventing others? Design/methodology/approach The main argument is that professional standards for teachers and school leaders create ambivalent (i.e. both positive and negative) affective spaces and atmospheres in schools that require one to look for the ways in which biopower works affectively through specific technologies. This ambivalence produces not only governable and self-managed teachers and school leaders who simply implement professional standards, but also affective spaces and atmospheres that might subvert the normalizing effects (and affects) of standards. Findings While attention has been directed to the involvement of affectivity in standardizing processes, what has been theorized less in the field of professional capital is the entanglement of affect and biopower in the spread of professional standards. Engaging with recent work surrounding the affective turn in the social sciences and humanities, the encounter between affect and biopower opens methodological, ethical and political possibilities to examine the affective impact of standards on the professional capital of teachers and school leaders. The analysis displaces emotions from their dominant positionality in discourses about professional standards, reinvigorating theoretical explorations of the affective spaces and atmospheres that co-constitute subjectivities, organizations, governance and social practices in standardizing processes. Originality/value The spatiotemporal and organizational arrangements of schools while undergoing standardizing processes constitute crucial constellations for ethical and political reproduction of affective relations. Thus, the destabilizing and inventive potentials of affects, spaces and atmospheres – to name a few conceptual resources – are extremely important in exposing the normalizing as well as resisting aspects of standardizing processes.
Article
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In recent educational reforms, policy papers present students’ desire and motivation for learning as decisive issues. The documents indicate that motivation has become a crucial issue for governmental intervention and results in a number of motivational technologies. Envy, once perceived as a mortal sin, is shown as integral of the ambiguous affective economy following the wake of the motivational technologies used to translate the Danish school reform of 2014 into everyday class rooms. Grasping and following the invidious complex as performative effects of the intra-action of policy, motivational technologies, and student bodies is a way of researching the implementation of a reform beyond the already designed tales of the reform. The point of formulating envy as an affirmative critique is not to debunk visual devices or motivational technologies. Rather, it is to provide a more complex understanding of, and the possible consequences of, certain ways of reforming learning and motivation, and to show how affects and gut feelings are both a motivating force and a disruptive one, that can generate an immanent and hopeful critique.
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