'Flat-Pack' Philosophy: Relativism, Realism and the Persistence of Rhetoric in Organization Studies



Marechal, Garance
(2009) 'Flat-Pack' Philosophy: Relativism, Realism and the Persistence of Rhetoric in Organization Studies. Ephemera: theory and politics in organization, 9 (3). 201 - 218.

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Abstract

In this paper I explore several ways in which critical realist and relativist arguments and ontological claims have been presented in recent debates, with especial reference to organization studies. The purpose of this exploration is to consider whether discussions have, or could have, moved away from reductive bottom-line arguments in the ways sometimes suggested by commentators, both theoretically and rhetorically. I argue that despite claims to the contrary, elements identified in earlier relativist critiques of some forms of realist argumentation still persist, although relativists themselves are not immune to criticism. Neither Critical Realism nor its adapted forms of (lower case) critical realism (such as those applied in organization studies) escape the trap of bottom-line rhetoric, despite their claims of offering a sophisticated stratified ontology that departs from empiricist views of science. They only succeed in moving the bottom line forward from a flattened world of ready-made pieces of furniture to flat-pack structures-to-be-actualized. Moreover, despite changes in the content of their arguments, the rhetoric of critical realists reveals the continuance of underlying strategies of power based on commitments to theology rather than ontology. Part of the problem, I conclude, is a consequence of constructing these textual exchanges as ‘debates’ in the first place.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ## TULIP Type: Articles/Papers (Journal) ##
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2015 10:42
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2021 08:41
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URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/2027363

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