‘It's Capitalism on Coke!’: From Temporary to Permanent Liminality in Organization Studies

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In recent years, organization studies have become increasingly aware of the concept of liminality. In our review and critique of this reception of liminality in organization studies, we emphasize that liminality involves a fundamental suspension of ordinary social structures. Although the prevailing use of the concept in anthropology as well as in organization studies has conceptualized liminality as a temporary state, we focus on permanent liminality. Yet the idea of permanent liminality leads to an inevitable paradox, because the concept, by definition, is a temporary state. Conceptualizing liminality as a constant state of social limbo, we show that the paradox in permanent liminality stems from the impossibility of drawing clear distinctions between different social spheres, especially as they apply to modern work–life. Examining a case study about a management consultant, we illustrate the paradox of liminality in terms of a zone of indistinction between work and life as it is reflected in an empirical self-narrative about a consultancy ‘lifestyle’. We further link these findings to a possible transition from disciplinary societies to societies of control.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture and Organization
Volume21
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)321-337
Number of pages17
ISSN1475-9551
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this