The Parasitic Organizationality of Post-Truth Communication

Peter Winkler, Dennis Schoeneborn

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportKonferenceabstrakt i proceedingsForskningpeer review


Post-truth communication (PTC) presents one of the most pressing challenges to democratic societies today (Maddalena & Gili, 2020; Harsin, 2015). Rejecting the fact-based and truthseeking endeavor of the enlightenment, PTC tends to spur social distrust and polarization (McCoy et al., 2018; Bennett & Livingston, 2020). Yet, PTC does not only endanger society atlarge. It also presents an increasingly pervasive and non-accountable mode of organized social evaluation with detrimental consequences for established organizations that strive for responsible corporate citizenship. Despite this growing challenge, thus far, organization and management studies offer surprisingly little insight into the organizing logics of PTC and how to responsibly engage with them (apart from rare exceptions, such as Knight & Tsoukas, 2019). To tackle this gap, our conceptual contribution pursues three main aims. (1) It provides an overview of central insights on the organizing logic of PTC from extant literatures primarily from the field of political communication and media studies, and it identifies their limitations. (2) We propose a complementary explanation of the organizing logic of PTC and its disruptive impact on formal organizations based on a theoretical perspective that regards communication as constitutive of organizations (CCO) (Ashcraft et al., 2009). We present a model, which explains PTC as a form of parasitic organizationality (cf. Dobusch & Schoeneborn, 2015). More specifically, we argue that PTC maintains its own organizing ability at the expense of weakening the organizing ability of targeted formal organizations, incl. corporations. We unfold this parasitic mechanism on the level of interconnecting communication episodes, identity building, boundary drawing, and mobilizing agency. (3) Based on this conceptualization, we derive practical implications for socially responsible forms of corporate engagement with PTC on the level of positioning, monitoring, and response strategies
TitelCSR Communication Conference 2022 : Conference Proceedings
RedaktørerHannah Trittin-Ulbrich, Dennis Schöneborn, Matthias Wenzel, Ursa Golob, Klement Podnar
Antal sider2
ForlagFaculty of Social Sciences. University of Ljubljana
ISBN (Elektronisk)9789612950309
StatusUdgivet - 2022