Show Less

Organization in Play

Donncha Kavanagh, Kieran Keohane and Carmen Kuhling

Play is a foundational concept that animates life, work, creativity and organization; and while play is essential, it also dislodges the very meaning of these terms. Organization in Play explores different meanings, usages and understandings of play to present novel and insightful perspectives on capitalism, management, markets, bureaucracy and other organizational phenomena. It traces how early capitalism, with its ethos of austerity and distaste for recreation, has given way to a more ludic version in recent times. At the same time, children – those playmakers supreme – have been, curiously, excluded from scholarly conversation about organization. The authors examine this and other paradoxes using a wide range of sources – from Weber to Sesame Street, from Star Trek to Lacan, from Riverdance to Beckett – that shed light on the capricious boundaries between work and play, rationality and foolishness, sense and nonsense.
Play points us to the liminal and the extraordinary, where meaning is ambiguous at best, and where conventional notions about order and disorder, movement and stasis, centre and periphery are undone and are put into play. It focuses our attention on the silences and absences, the comic and the theatrical, the folly and the madness of markets, organizations, management and work practices in contemporary capitalism. Drawing on a deep engagement with sociological and organizational literatures, the authors show how a play perspective enhances our understanding of the institutions we inhabit and which inhabit us.


Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter 8 - Playing Business: Gambling and ‘Casino Capitalism’ -191


Chapter 8 Playing Business: Gambling and ‘Casino Capitalism’ In the last chapter, we argued that playfulness, liminality and madness are integral to commercial markets, and that our understanding of market phenomena can be enhanced through a study of the complex inter-rela- tionship between markets, exchange and the extreme. In this chapter, we will further our understanding of the interplay between markets and play through examining the relationship between contemporary commerce and gambling. This chapter reveals the f luidity between markets and play by representing the entrepreneur and the government as gambler, ‘playing’ on world currencies, commodities and futures markets. This chapter will explore risk in contemporary business as well as the business of risk, which has become central to the cultural logic of late capitalism. Gambling has become a structuring principle – arguably the – structuring principle of global risk society (Cosgrave, 2006), by which we mean that gambling is the principle around which individual and col- lective action is oriented and organized. In the contexts of uncertainty and liminality generated by neo-liberal global political economy, ref lexive or ‘accelerated’ modernization, post-modern culture and the post-national constellation, globally generated risks are relocalized and downloaded onto the individual who assumes the burdens of responsibility for gambling with his or her life chances as though there were no sociological corre- spondence between history and biography other than chance and luck, as in a lottery. At the level of corporate and organizational forms, economic activity increasingly assumes the form of gambling (Scherer, 2001). The risk-taking...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.