Managing Intensity and Play at Work

Managing Intensity and Play at Work

Transient Relationships

Niels Åkerstrøm Andersen

In this thought-provoking book Niels Åkerstrøm Andersen uses a unique combination of deconstruction, systems theory and discourse theory to critically discuss topics such as the management of feelings, partnerships as second order promises, and work–life balance as an immune defense against over-socialized employees. He assesses the parallels between layoffs in intimate organizations and modern professional divorce discourses, and explores the dichotomy of double-bounded management commanding both ‘do as I say’ and ‘be autonomous’. In so doing, Professor Andersen encourages the reader to look at relationships in the workplace in new ways.

Chapter 3: From membership to self-enrollment: the production of the employee who creates herself in the organizational image

Niels Åkerstrøm Andersen

Subjects: business and management, critical management studies, human resource management, organisation studies


This chapter provides the basis for the book’s evolving diagnoses. It shows how the question of transience challenges formal membership and opens up towards what I have referred to as “the membership of self-enrollment” (the chapter elaborates Andersen and Born 2001, 2007, 2008; Andersen 2007b). I have chosen membership as my portal to the diagnosis of the present because membership is anything but an arbitrary element in organizations. Our society consists of a multiplicity of social systems constituted in rather different ways. Organizations are social systems, whose social dimension is constituted precisely through membership. Membership, I argue, is the constitutive element for organizational systems. If I can show that membership as a form shifts in accordance with the question of transience, then I will not only have shown that an element of modern organization has changed but also that the constitutive conditions for organization as such have changed. This is a comprehensive question.

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