Managing Intensity and Play at Work
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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.
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Chapter 5: Managing interpenetration and intensity

Transient Relationships

Niels Åkerstrøm Andersen


In the previous chapter I described feelings as three different types of operations: as diffuse thought in the psychic systems, affection in the biological systems and emotional expressions in the social systems. I argued that biological systems, psychic systems and social systems cannot be reduced to one another, nor do they determine each other. Instead, they play a crucial role as each other’s environments. In my historical analysis, the body temporarily moved into the background. It was not so much that it was totally absent, but I chose not to underline the bodily references in order that the analysis did not become too complex. The focus was the disruptions between social systems and psychic systems. I investigated how authentic feelings became a way to recognize self-enrollment, and how this created specific organizational challenges. I will now include the body and biological systems as system references. I will argue that not only the employee’s feelings become constructed as an object for management. The interpenetrations between bodies, psychic and social systems emerge as management subjects.

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