Journeying into the business world... one undiscovered culture at a time

Welcome to [Per]Suit of Anthropology, a blog dedicated to the exploration of modern business trends and perspectives from the view of anthropologist, with a special emphasis on cultural understandings of work-life balance and disability rights in the workplace. This blog is a way for me to connect two sides of my professional self that I see in constant dialogue. Though the business world and the anthropological world may not believe it - they have more in common and more to learn from one another than readily acknowledged. Topics covered include: Western business practices and the impact of those decisions on socio-cultural institutions worldwide, invisible disabilities, Ignatian spirituality, work-life balance, and some discussion of issues of tourism and its impacts on culture, and common human capital practices in private industry and government.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The liminal 'Death' of the Corporation - Does it exist?

In my second post relating the concept of liminality to that of the corporate culture - I will start at the beginning of the liminal process: understanding whether or not corporations are going through the metaphorical change, or death, that is necessary to jump-start a new period of redefinition.

I found myself thinking of this in the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy - which for many people in NY and NJ especially will find them in a real state of liminality much more real and have more real-life impact than any discourse that may be posted on this blog or other sites.  But that very question of an event that launches a community into a state of liminality is exactly, in my observation, what is missing to truly support the foundation that corporations are in a state of liminality.

For example, one could point as the advent of the internet as one of the factors that led to the state of liminality in which corporations are attempting to redefine themselves.  However, the impact of the internet has been one of gradual accumulation - taking place over years (over twenty to be  more specific).  Or perhaps was it the invention of Facebook and Twitter that enabled this change?   Well, yes both of those social networking tools have changed how organizations respond to their stakeholders (shareholders, workers, the public writ large).

Liminality theorists also bring up the idea of a group being in a constant state of liminality, such as Karl Jaspers' theory of axial ages, or Turner's thought that liminality can become fixed.  Both of these theories suppose that the community still follows the normal stages of the liminal process - and ends with some type of 'new world order.'

My proposition is thus:  what if there is no new world order?  What if the constant state of change and adaptation to consistent forms of communication (and thus a response) is a neo-liminal state, constantly in a state of upheaval, jumping from one messianic figure to the next - with tricksters popping up and disappearing all over the place?  The 24-hour news-cycle promoted by the media (and its subsequent impact on our culture and how we process and exchange information) can be a ripe example for further study of liminality.  It seems that the media jumps from one real or imagined crisis to the next, trying to be the messianic figure (leading its audiences to the Truth), while there are tricksters in the form of bloggers, conspiracy theorists, or even talk radio hosts who try to lead people in a different direction.

Would this lack of a new world order be, in and of itself a new world order according to the theories of liminality?   If so, who would guide?  I find this all fascinating and wonder if the answer to this line of questioning would help us better understand the impact of media saturation in the modern American corporate life.  How would corporate organizations take advantage of, or attempt to control the discourse to make the most of short-term profits?  One can only see how this all starts to get the wheels turning...

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