The purpose of this paper is to argue that narrative methodology is increasingly caught in an ideological deadlock set in terms of a false choice between meaning (an unconditional respect for the voice of experience) and truth (the scientific validation of stories), which has led to an increasing dismissal of analysis in narrative research. Inadvertently, however, this development has also heightened vulnerability to ideological deception in storytelling.
Through the lens of Žižek's theory of ideology, this paper offers a reflection on narrative analysis that proposes a renewed critical perspective on “writing responsibly” about organizations by repositioning narrative analysis and its purpose vis‐à‐vis science, storytelling and ideology.
Žižek's conception of ideological fantasy highlights the impotence of cognitive forms of ideology critique in this age. He stresses how this reality is pervaded as deeply by fetishistic illusions as is thought. These illusions, disseminated through narrative, serve as the backbone of everyday practices in organizations and society, based on a process of symbolic “quilting” that is designed to cover up the traumatic emptiness of central signifiers used to make sense of experience. Semiotic analysis enables people to recognize how they constantly “re‐write” this experience in organizational narratives and science to erase from view the structural impossibility of social fantasies.
Three areas for the semiotic analysis of narratives are identified that merit special attention for the recognition of this ideological deception in stories: the entwinement of fact and fiction, the interplay of form and content and the use of perspective and voice.
Žižek's theory has not been systematically applied yet as a methodological tool in narrative research and analysis, while it affords a promising way to critically negotiate the pitfalls of representation in organization and business research.
Essers, J. (2012), "Re‐writing the organization: the ideological deadlock of narrative methodology", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 332-351. https://doi.org/10.1108/09534811211213991Download as .RIS
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