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Book part
Publication date: 20 May 2011

Harry F. Dahms

In recent years, the concept of “reification” has virtually disappeared from debates in social theory, including critical social theory. The concept was at the center of…

Abstract

In recent years, the concept of “reification” has virtually disappeared from debates in social theory, including critical social theory. The concept was at the center of the revitalization of Marxist theory in the early twentieth century generally known as Western Marxism. Georg Lukács in particular introduced the concept to express how the process described in Marx's critique of alienation and commodification could be grasped more effectively by combining it with Max Weber's theory of rationalization (see Agger, 1979; Stedman Jones et al., 1977).1 In Lukács's use, the concept of reification captured the process by which advanced capitalist production, as opposed to earlier stages of capitalist development, assimilated processes of social, cultural, and political production and reproduction to the dynamic imperatives and logic of capitalist accumulation. It is not just interpersonal relations and forms of organization constituting the capitalist production process that are being refashioned along the lines of one specific definition of economic necessity. In addition, and more consequentially, the capitalist mode of production also assimilates to its specific requirements the ways in which human beings think the world. As a result, the continuous expansion and perfection of capitalist production and its control over the work environment impoverishes concrete social, political, and cultural forms of coexistence and cooperation, and it brings about an impoverishment of our ability to conceive of reality from a variety of social, political, and philosophical viewpoints.

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The Vitality Of Critical Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-798-8

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Book part
Publication date: 20 May 2011

Harry F. Dahms

For Weberian Marxists, the social theories of Max Weber and Karl Marx are complementary contributions to the analysis of modern capitalist society. Combining Weber's…

Abstract

For Weberian Marxists, the social theories of Max Weber and Karl Marx are complementary contributions to the analysis of modern capitalist society. Combining Weber's theory of rationalization with Marx's critique of commodity fetishism to develop his own critique of reification, Georg Lukács contended that the combination of Marx's and Weber's social theories is essential to envisioning socially transformative modes of praxis in advanced capitalist society. By comparing Lukács's theory of reification with Habermas's theory of communicative action as two theories in the tradition of Weberian Marxism, I show how the prevailing mode of “doing theory” has shifted from Marx's critique of economic determinism to Weber's idea of the inner logic of social value spheres. Today, Weberian Marxism can make an important contribution to theoretical sociology by reconstituting itself as a framework for critically examining prevailing societal definitions of the rationalization imperatives specific to purposive-rational social value spheres (the economy, the administrative state, etc.). In a second step, Weberian Marxists would explore how these value spheres relate to each other and to value spheres that are open to the type of communicative rationalization characteristic of the lifeworld level of social organization.

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The Vitality Of Critical Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-798-8

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Article
Publication date: 26 April 2013

Gazi Islam

The aim of this paper is to develop the idea of recognition in organizations, arguing that recognition is a fundamental building block of workplace dignity, and a key…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to develop the idea of recognition in organizations, arguing that recognition is a fundamental building block of workplace dignity, and a key element of cultural respect in the workplace.

Design/methodology/approach

As a conceptual paper, the current work approaches discussions of human resource management through the lens of recognition theory, applying ideas of recognition and reification to workplace issues.

Findings

Workplace reification can be observed in diverse areas of human resource management, reflecting a “human capital” view of employees. The paper traces this view in terms of measurement and incentives, as well as individual and group diversity within the workplace.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the literature on care in human resources by briding ideas from management and critical social theory, contributing to the former by couching workplace dignity in terms of social theoretic foundations of recognition, and contributing to the latter by showing how the workplace can form an important site for recognition.

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Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1352-7606

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Article
Publication date: 20 June 2019

Régis Martineau and Jean-Philippe Lafontaine

This paper aims to show that the implementation of carbon accounting systems is problematic because it contributes to the commodification of nature, leading individuals to…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to show that the implementation of carbon accounting systems is problematic because it contributes to the commodification of nature, leading individuals to “forget about nature.”

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use the concept of reification to explore the subjective dimension of the commodification process. They construct an analytical framework that helps to explain how and why nature may ultimately be “forgotten” by individuals during the commodification process. The example of France is used to illustrate this argument.

Findings

The paper presents and discusses three mechanisms (the objectivation of nature, economic reasoning and individuals’ environmental consciousness) that form the basis for the rationale and modus operandi of carbon accounting systems. By comparing these mechanisms with the concept of reification, it highlights three criticisms that could be put to advocates of these systems.

Practical implications

This analysis shows that discussions of carbon accounting systems should focus more on their philosophical principles rather than merely examining the technical problems posed by their implementation.

Social implications

This research provides some answers to explain the inefficiency of policies implemented within the framework of global climate governance.

Originality/value

This study helps to put carbon accounting research into perspective. It goes further than existing work on the commodification of nature by describing the subjective dimension of individuals who are led to disconnect their arguments and practices from their primary and emotional relationship with nature.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Book part
Publication date: 28 July 2008

Kevin Fox Gotham and Daniel A. Krier

Since Karl Marx fashioned his theory of capitalism in the nineteenth century, scholars have continually updated Marxian theory to capture the pervasiveness of commodity…

Abstract

Since Karl Marx fashioned his theory of capitalism in the nineteenth century, scholars have continually updated Marxian theory to capture the pervasiveness of commodity relations in modern society. Influenced by Georg Lukács and Henri Lefebvre, the members of the French avant-guard group, the Situationist International (1957–1972), developed an intransigent critique of consumer capitalism based on the concept of the spectacle. In the spectacle, media and consumer society replace lived experience, the passive gaze of images supplants active social participation, and new forms of alienation induce social atomization at a more abstract level than in previous societies. We endeavor to make two theoretical contributions: First, we highlight the contributions of the Situationist International, pointing out how they revised the Marxian categories of alienation, commodification, and reification in order to analyze the dynamics of twentieth century capitalism and to give these concepts new explanatory power. Second, we build a critical theory of consumer capitalism that incorporates the theoretical assumptions and arguments of the Situationists and the Frankfurt School. Today, critical theory can make an important contribution to sociology by critically examining the plurality of spectacles and their reifying manifestations. In addition, critical theorists can explore how different spectacles connect to one another, how they connect to different social institutions, and how spectacles express contradictions and conflicting meanings. A critical theory of spectacle and consumption can disclose both novelties and discontinuities in the current period, as well as continuities in the development of globalized consumer capitalism.

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No Social Science without Critical Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-538-3

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2004

Lynne F. Baxter and Constanze Hirschhauser

The object of this paper is to explore superficiality in implementing improvement programmes. The reported lack of success of some quality improvement programmes in…

Abstract

The object of this paper is to explore superficiality in implementing improvement programmes. The reported lack of success of some quality improvement programmes in realising stated objectives is recognised, but what constitutes the superficial attempts at implementation may well be highly complex symbolic forms of representation and reification which have a multiplicity of meanings for the individuals involved. The project managers try to implement and the tools and activities used to do so are superficial and trivial, and very difficult for observers to associate with improving operations. However, for the managers themselves the superficial has a high degree of significance for their own progression in the organisation and, curiously enough, the means of convincing some outsiders of the organisation's competence. The dominant community of practice was not that of performance improvement, but creating the impression of doing so.

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International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 24 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1991

David Schweitzer

Marx's formulation of the alienation problematic is grounded in a strategic set of underlying assumptions concerning the human condition. On the one hand, people are seen…

Abstract

Marx's formulation of the alienation problematic is grounded in a strategic set of underlying assumptions concerning the human condition. On the one hand, people are seen as the creators of their material and mental world through their labour activity. They are endowed with natural human qualities, creative powers and historically existing potentialities that are essential to human growth. People are, in essence, free, creative, productive beings of praxis in conscious control of their activities and the world they have created. But the material and mental products of human labour (e.g. commodities, ideas, social institutions) assume an autonomous life of their own. They come to rule over people as dehumanizing objects and powers, as alien and hostile forces operating independently above and against the common will of their own creators. People no longer experience themselves as active human agents in conscious control of their life circumstances. Their own productive activities, human creations, social relationships and nature at large remain alien and beyond their grasp. The realization of natural human capacities and potentialities for a genuinely human life in an alienating world of domination and oppression is consequently thwarted, repressed or denied. Alienation is construed as a universal social phenomenon that pervades all spheres of human life in the existing world.

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International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 11 no. 6/7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 16 August 2011

Nicky Dries

The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which the concept of career success has been subject to reification, and identify potential implications for…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which the concept of career success has been subject to reification, and identify potential implications for individuals, organizations, and societies.

Design/methodology/approach

The current paper offers an in‐depth analysis of the different contextual forces contributing to the reification of careers (i.e. history, culture and ideology), and how these have impacted on the social reality of career and the definitions of career success held by different relevant actors.

Findings

In total, eight research propositions are identified that need to be addressed in future research in order to advance knowledge and understanding of career success in context.

Social implications

One manifest outcome of career reification is the establishment of collective norms prescribing what a “normal”, “successful” career is – and what is not. Consequently, all careers not conforming to these norms are devaluated, which is inappropriate given the present‐day climate of workplace diversity.

Originality/value

Career theory, in general, has been criticized for overemphasizing individual agency while neglecting contextual issues. Furthermore, more conceptual development is necessary in relation to the career success construct. The current paper aims to address both of these gaps by presenting in‐depth analyses of the historical, cultural, and ideological contexts impacting on the meaning of career and career success.

Details

Career Development International, vol. 16 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1362-0436

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2005

Chris Kimble and Paul Hildreth

This main aim of this article is to explore the relationship between knowledge management (KM) and communities of practice (CoPs) in general and virtual CoPs in

Abstract

Purpose

This main aim of this article is to explore the relationship between knowledge management (KM) and communities of practice (CoPs) in general and virtual CoPs in particular. A subsidiary aim is to provide some practical guidelines about how virtual CoPs can be facilitated and maintained.

Design/methodology/approach

The relationship between KM and CoPs is explored using theoretical constructs, the notion of a duality, and data from a case study. The article reports on a case study of a “virtual” CoP and highlights two key aspects of virtual working. The article demonstrates how these key aspects map on to Wenger's participation‐reification duality and, in turn, on to the soft‐hard duality described by Hildreth and Kimble.

Findings

The case study of a “virtual” CoP was based in three geographically separate locations (the UK, the USA, and Japan). The case study reports on the activities of the UK part of the CoP both at their UK base and during one of their regular trips to the USA. It highlights the importance of two particular aspects or virtual working: social relationships and the use of shared artefacts.

Practical implications

Some general conclusions are drawn from the analysis concerning the facilitation of virtual CoPs and the broader implications of dualities for KM.

Originality/value

The main contribution of the article is in making an explicit link between KM and CoPs through the use of the notion of the duality of knowledge.

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 15 November 2019

Irene Biza and Elena Nardi

The purpose of this paper is to propose and evaluate a proactive reflective activity for mathematics student teachers in which they consider mathematical content and its…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose and evaluate a proactive reflective activity for mathematics student teachers in which they consider mathematical content and its teaching in highly specific classroom situations.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was conducted in context of a mathematics Initial Teacher Education programme in the UK. Participants were invited from the whole cohort of student teachers to identify, script and reflect upon critical classroom incidents. In total, 12 such scripts were produced and then discussed by 17 student teachers in group and plenary sessions. Discussions were audio-recorded. Scripts and discussions were analysed according to four characteristics: consistency between stated pedagogical priorities and intended practices; specificity of the reflection to the classroom situation reported in the scripts; reification of pedagogical discourse; and, reification of mathematical discourse.

Findings

In the results, the authors exemplify student teachers’ insights that emerged from the analysis of the scripts through the typology of the four characteristics, and the authors observe that the student teachers’ insights mirror the complexity and richness of the mathematics classrooms they face. The authors’ examples and their evaluation through the aforementioned typology of the four characteristics illustrate the potency of student teachers’ participation in producing, and reflecting upon, individually and collectively, critical incidents of their inaugural experiences in the classroom.

Practical implications

As these activities take placein the context of teacher education, professional development or developmental research environments, an additional challenge is to generate robust and informative evaluation of teachers’ engagement with reflection and research on their practice. This study takes on this challenge in the context of a mathematics teacher education programme in the UK: the authors propose and evaluate a proactive reflective activity for mathematics student teachers in which they consider mathematical content and its teaching in highly specific classroom situations.

Originality/value

The examples and their evaluation through the typology of four characteristics illustrate the potency of student teachers’ participation in producing, and reflecting upon, individually and collectively, critical incidents of their inaugural experiences in the classroom.

Details

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-8253

Keywords

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