Kafka’s ‘Before the Law’: The Participation of the Subject in Its Subjectification

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This paper presents a close encounter between the literary works of Franz Kafka and a core topic in organizational theories of power, namely the participation of subjects in their own subjectification. In discussing ‘In the Cathedral’, the penultimate chapter of The Trial by Franz Kafka, the paper develops three central aspects of Kafka’s text: reflexivity as a form of entanglement with power, self-slander complementing formal involvement, and humour as a form of freedom. These aspects are mirrored against the example of performance evaluation to complement and enrich the theoretical debate about subjectification more generally. The paper and its contributions serve as a corrective to approaches that overemphasize either the possibilities of resistance, for example through reflexivity, or the impotence of the subject in the face of power.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)1823-1840
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 19. September 2019


  • Kafka
  • Literature
  • Performance evaluation
  • Reflexivity
  • Subjectification

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