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 6: Loving layoffs: the intimate strategies of the break-up

Transient Relationships

Niels Åkerstrøm Andersen


Where there is enrollment, there is sure to also be termination of membership. Until now my focus has been on the conditions for enrollment when membership becomes self-enrollment. Now, I am going to cut across the distinction and focus on conditions for termination of membership. My thesis is that shedding light on the termination of membership can provide essential insight into the membership of self-enrollment as such. Zygmunt Bauman stresses the movement towards transient relationships in both love life and work life. In his book, Society under Siege, Bauman writes: “it is a facility of disconnection, of switching off, that sets apart the new brand of interpersonal relations” (Bauman 2002, p. 153). But perhaps it is not as simple as mere transience negating permanence. Many families, particularly with kids, who have lived through divorce, find out that the divorce does not simply abolish the relationship. One never fully regains one’s previous independence. The relation cannot easily be shut down. Even following rather irreconcilable break-ups, the two people have to establish a decent relationship that can tolerate the dependencies (children) that remain.

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