Liberalist Fantasies: Žižek and the Impossibility of the Open Society

Christian De Cock, Steffen Böhm

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In this paper we engage with the liberalist project in organization and management studies. The first `face' of organizational liberalism is expressed through post-bureaucratic discourses which very much define the mainstream of management thought today, highlighting the need for organizational openness which can only come through a liberation of management from the closed structures of the bureaucracy. The second face of organizational liberalism defends the bureaucratic ethos of liberal-democratic institutions and points to the Popperian concept of the `open society' that requires rational, procedural laws to reconcile conflicting values in societies and organizations, thus ensuring the existence of a plurality of ways of life. We point to the limitations of both `faces' of organizational liberalism by discussing key aspects of Slavoj Žižek's work. Žižek displaces the liberal conception of institutionally sanctioned `openness' by claiming this actually constitutes a closure and puts a challenge to us. How can we create real openness? How is a real difference possible?
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)815-836
StatusUdgivet - 2007
Udgivet eksterntJa


  • Bureaucracy
  • Capitalism
  • Ideology
  • Liberalism
  • Open society
  • Political philosophy
  • Žižek