Counter-cultural and new age capitalist ideas: wellbeing and the contemporary workplace
This thesis examines the concept of wellbeing at work. It outlines a new type of organisation, that uses intellectual, immaterial and communicative labour power in order to provide a work ethic for both the production and consumption of their products. The thesis argues that the promotion and production of wellbeing in the workplace is in fact the production of the symbolic order of hegemonic powers in play. The thesis investigates a shift in the treatment of wellbeing in the field of organisation studies, as a concept considered as being in the social realm, to one that now has an increasingly prevalent place in the corporate realm. This thesis approaches the concept of wellbeing from a critical perspective, in contrast to the prescriptive management theory currently presented in the mainstream organisation studies literature. The analysis approaches the concept of ‘wellbeing at work’ as written and visual, and so a multi-media analysis is carried out. The fieldwork was undertaken within a single case study organization (i.e. Innocent Drinks) which was perceived to explicitly embrace the concept of well being. The general research approach used a critical ethnographic methodology and the data analysed in the thesis includes written field notes, self-made photographs, existing images, workplace and product design, colour use and typography. The analysis of data considered the ways in which ideas about wellbeing are appropriated and consumed within the workplace, and outside of this formal workspace, and what this means for the individuals and for society in general. To this end, and based upon insights that emerged from the scrutiny of data, five interrelated themes were used to classify and explore these issues (namely: home and family; play and humour; nature, environment and society; non-business/nonbureaucratic activity; and, the idea of love). The findings of this thesis identify that discourses about political and social wellbeing made through the construction of a culture both for employees and consumers alike, serve not to further the wellbeing of those people, but in fact to hijack the space once available for an alternative to the capitalist system. The research also reveals a new and emerging type of organization, that promotes wellbeing through consumption. Communication related to this type organisation not only expresses, but also organises the movement of globalisation. This form of legitimization rests on nothing outside of itself. The primary contribution of this thesis is that it provides an alternative way of conceptualizing wellbeing within organizations and within the organization studies literature. More specifically, it offers an articulation of how ‘new type’ organisations appropriate countercultural values and ideas into the realm of consumption, as a form of control over labour.
- Theses