The Dialogic Performativity of Secrecy and Transparency

Ziyun Fan*, Lars Thøger Christensen

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

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How does the pursuit of transparency and insight tend to produce secrecy and vice versa? In popular and political discourse, secrecy and transparency are usually depicted as mutually exclusive practices. At the same time, we know from extant research that the two are closely related, that they each have performative effects, and tend to encroach on each other. The inseparability and performative dynamics between the two, however, remains to be unfolded. This critical essay revisits the secrecy-transparency relationship through the lens of Edgar Morin’s dialogical principle. From this perspective, we argue that secrecy-transparency dialogics perform as a complex whole, involving both complementary and antagonistic forces. As an illustration of dialogic performativity, we draw on the phenomenon and practice of ‘open meetings’ in public sector organizations. Specifically, we argue that the ambiguous fascination with knowing and not knowing create conditions for simulated insight and self-imposed conformity in ways that recalibrate the relationship between transparency and secrecy. On this background, we call for renewed critical and reflexive engagement with the transparency ideal and its presumed antipode, secrecy.
TidsskriftHuman Relations
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)484-504
Antal sider21
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2024

Bibliografisk note

Published online: November 8, 2022.


  • Secrecy
  • Transparency
  • Secrecy-transparency dynamics
  • Dialogics
  • Performativity