When Shame Meets Love: Affective pathways to freedom from injurious bodily norms in the workplace
AuthorPouthier, V; Sondak, H
Source TitleOrganization Studies
University of Melbourne Author/sPouthier, Vanessa
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsPouthier, V; Sondak, H, When Shame Meets Love: Affective pathways to freedom from injurious bodily norms in the workplace, Organization Studies, 2019, Forthcoming
Access StatusOpen Access
We explore organizational members’ affective experiences to elucidate how and when the reproduction of oppressive bodily norms can be interrupted. We leverage the exceptional access to hitherto overlooked affective dynamics in one organizational context made possible by the introduction of a video art installation in a commercial art gallery. The artwork enabled both the all-female staff and the researchers to observe, feel and reflect on both the invisible force of body shame and the empowering forces of communal laughter and reciprocal generosity. Our analysis reveals how the repetition of loving encounters around the artwork moved the staff away from crippling individualized anxiety and shame and towards more joyful and carefree possibilities. It further suggests that the organization’s feminist culture and climate of psychological safety facilitated the trajectory from shame to joy through love. By surfacing and explaining such affective pathways to freedom as an important form of emancipatory politics in the context of injurious, discriminatory bodily norms, we contribute to both scholarship on bodily discipline in the workplace and recent work on the critical potential of affect.
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