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Kate Kenny and Marianna Fotaki
From gendered organizations to compassionate borderspaces: Reading corporeal ethics with Bracha Ettinger
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In this article, we propose a new way of approaching the topic of ethics for management and organization theory. We build on recent developments within critical organization studies that focus on the question of what kind of ethics is possible in organizational contexts that are inevitably beset by difference. Addressing this ‘ethics of difference’, we propose a turn to feminist theory, in which the topic has long been debated but which has been underutilized in organization theory until very recently. Specifically, we draw on the work of Bracha Ettinger to re-think and extend existing understandings. Inspired by gender studies, psychoanalysis, philosophy and art, Ettinger’s work has been celebrated for its revolutionary re-theorization of subjectivity. Drawing on a feminist ethics of the body inspired by psychoanalysis, she presents a concept of ‘trans-subjectivity’. In this, subjectivity is defined by connectedness, co-existence and compassion towards the other, and is grounded in what Ettinger terms the ‘matrixial borderspace’. An ethics of organization derived from the concept of the matrixial suggests that a different kind of ethical relation with the Other is possible. In this article, we demonstrate this through examining the issue of gender in the workplace. We conclude by outlining the implications of this perspective for rethinking ethics, embodiment and gender, and in particular for the development of a corporeal ethics for organization studies.
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