Led As If by One Mind: Affect Theory and the Organizational Ensemble

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Abstract

In recent years a nascent but impressive case has been made for exploring the theoretical, methodological, ethical and political significance affect theory can have for the study of organizations. In this endeavour, a number of scholars have returned to the philosophical origins of affect in Spinoza’s philosophy through a Deleuzian reading that seems to focus on the corporeal and material aspects of affects at the expense of a broader conceptualization that takes its mental counterpart into consideration. This Article attempts to amend this one-sidedness by arguing that by theoretically reconstructing and reinvigorating aspects of Spinoza’s theory that has not been paid proper attention, and by taking Spinoza’s theory of parallelism between mind and body seriously, we can arrive at a more multifaceted concept of affect, which I theorize along four lines. This concept of affect will then be connected to Étienne Balibar’s concept of transindividual in order to conceptualize organizations as collective individuals made up by collective bodies and collective minds. I show how this allows for analysis that foregrounds the fluctuational, conflictual and agonistic affective dynamics embedded in organizational cultures as well as how social cohesion can be understood and consolidated affectively.

Keywords

  • Affect
  • Spinoza
  • Organizations
  • Parallelism
  • Balibar
  • Transindividuality
  • Affect theory

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