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Censored: Whistleblowers and impossible speech
Kenny, Kate
What happens to a person who speaks out about corruption in their organization, and finds themselves excluded from their profession? In this article, I argue that whistleblowers experience exclusions because they have engaged in â impossible speechâ , that is, a speech act considered to be unacceptable or illegitimate. Drawing on Butlerâ s theories of recognition and censorship, I show how norms of acceptable speech working through recruitment practices, alongside the actions of colleagues, can regulate subject positions and ultimately â un-doâ whistleblowers. In turn, they construct boundaries against â unethicalâ others who have not spoken out. Based on in-depth empirical research on financial sector whistleblowers, the article departs from existing literature that depicts the excluded whistleblower as a passive victim â a hollow stereotype. It contributes to organization studies in a number of ways. To debates on Butlerâ s recognition-based critique of subjectivity in organizations, it yields a performative ontology of excluded whistleblower subjects, in which they are both â derealizedâ by powerful norms, and compelled into ongoing and ambivalent negotiations with self and other. These insights contribute to a theory of subjective derealization in instances of â impossible speechâ , which provides a more nuanced conception of excluded organizational subjects, including blacklisted whistleblowers, than previously available. This research was supported by funding from Harvard University, JE Safra Centre for Ethics and NUI Galway Millennium Fund.
Keyword(s): Butler; Censorship; Financial sector; Speech; Subjectivity; Whistleblowing
Publication Date:
Type: Journal article
Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Language(s): English
Contributor(s): JE Safra Centre for Ethics, Harvard University; Millennium Fund, NUI Galway
Institution: NUI Galway
Publisher(s): SAGE Publications
File Format(s): application/pdf
First Indexed: 2019-03-28 06:20:31 Last Updated: 2019-09-20 06:40:27