The Temporality of Power and the Power of Temporality: Imaginary Future Selves in Professional Service Firms

Jana Costas, Christopher Grey

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    This paper extends existing understandings of power, resistance and subjectivity in professional service organizations by developing an analysis of how these relate to temporality. Drawing in particular on Hoy’s reading of the Foucauldian account of temporality, we conceive of disciplinary power regimes and resistance as inherently future-oriented, or, to use Ybema’s term, postalgic. In moving beyond the extant research focus on self-disciplined and/or counter-resistant professional selves, we draw attention to the imaginary future self as an employee response to disciplinary power. In contrast to the future orientation of disciplinary power, this response envisages the future as a discontinuous break with the present which we examine as a form of resistant postalgia. Building on in-depth qualitative data gathered at two professional service firms, we explain how imaginary future selves can shed new light on the interplay of power, resistance and subjectivity.
    TidsskriftOrganization Studies
    Udgave nummer6
    Sider (fra-til)909-937
    StatusUdgivet - 2014


    • Deferment
    • Identity
    • Postalgia
    • Power
    • Resistance
    • Temporality