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Whistleblower subjectivities: organization and passionate attachment

Whistleblower subjectivities: organization and passionate attachment

Kenny, Kate, Fotaki, Marianna and Vandekerckhove, Wim ORCID: 0000-0002-0106-7915 (2018) Whistleblower subjectivities: organization and passionate attachment. Organization Studies, 41 (3). pp. 323-343. ISSN 0170-8406 (Print), 1741-3044 (Online) (doi:

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What is the nature of whistleblower subjectivity? In this article, we depart from current scholarly depictions of this figure as a fearless truth-teller who is fully independent of the organization. We argue for a new framing that sees the self-construction of the whistleblower as infused with passionate attachments to organizational and professional norms, even after one experiences severe reprisals. We base our claims on recently-gathered empirical data and draw on Judith Butler to theorize how, contrary to existing understandings, passionate attachments to one’s organization and profession shape whistleblower subjectivity, rather than conscious risk-taking, or autonomous self-reinvention. Our second contribution is to highlight the importance of practical and material supports for this vital figure in society; until now the whistleblower has been idealized as an extraordinary hero rather than a real human in need of assistance. Overall, we propose a new theorization of the whistleblower involving passionate investments in the organization or profession that has cast one out.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: affective attachments, Butler, Foucault, parrhesia, psychosocial, subjectivity, whistleblower
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Centre for Work and Employment Research (CREW) > Work & Employment Research Unit (WERU)
Faculty of Business > Department of Human Resources & Organisational Behaviour
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2020 10:27

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