Speaking Truth through Power: Conceptualizing Internal Whistleblowing Hotlines with Foucault’s Dispositive

Erik Mygind du Plessis

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    This article is an examination of the various ambivalences, limitations and dilemmas that are associated with the internal whistleblowing hotline – which is conceptualized as a management technique that strives to contain, codify, constrain, standardize, and neutralize acts of speaking up against illegal or unethical practices. In other words the interest is on what happens when the critical practice of whistleblowing or ‘speaking truth to power’ is sought institutionalized and transformed into a practice of ‘speaking truth through power’ – that is, through the managerial instrument of the whistleblowing hotline. The article argues that the Foucauldian concept of dispositive can help explain how a seemingly expedient and pragmatic technique such as the whistleblowing hotline, is in fact riddled with complexity and contradiction, which in turn creates a series of dilemmas and limitations related to aim and function the hotline. The analysis thus shows how the internal whistleblowing hotline can take different forms depending on the dispositive permeating it. Empirically, the analysis is based on descriptions of the use and function of internal whistleblowing hotlines in a Danish context.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)544-576
    Number of pages33
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

    Bibliographical note

    Published online: December 26, 2020.


    • Dialogue
    • Discipline
    • Dispositive
    • Foucault
    • Internal hotline
    • Security
    • Whistleblowing
    • Whistleblowing hotline

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