32 SES 08 B, Learning Communities versus Teaching Machines
This paper combines interest in the ghostly in organisation with an empirical analysis of how teachers in the Danish public school have been affected by simultaneous implementation of two major reforms. In 2013 a school reform was put in place, alongside with a reform of teachers’ working hour regulations. Prior to the latter reform, the negotiations between the teachers union and the employer side broke down. The result was a lock out of the teachers and the closing of all public schools for almost one month. The government unprecedentedly put an end to the conflict by implementing the working hour regulations through Law 409. However, even if the conflict ended, it refuses to go away. As this teacher puts it: "I get really mad, when people tell me that now we have to put things behind us and move on…I can't!" Even today, 4 years later, we see how teachers resigning from their job, do so by referring to their entangled experiences of conflict and reform, which eventually have made them loose the joy of teaching (Pedersen, Böwadt, & Vaaben, 2016).
We approach these experiences affecting the work life of teachers through a perspective on the ghostly in organisation. We pursue the question of why it is that teachers seem haunted, both by events of the past, but also by a feeling of having lost the spirit of teaching (Vaaben & Bjerg, 2017). The case of the Danish teachers is used to argue how organisational life is not fully grasped without understanding the spirits, desires, and fantasies animating people or without understanding the ways in which the past and future can haunt the present and call for action. We contribute to the field of policy studies which looks at implementation as translation with a focus on shifting temporalities (Brøgger, 2014; 2016; Pors 2016a;b; Brøgger & Staunæs 2016) ; Phillips & Ochs, 2003; Steiner-Khamsi, 2012). We take our cue in the recent interest in ghostly matters in organisational life (Pors 2016a/b). Moreover we are inspired by scholars on the outlook for Weberian spirits in modern capitalism to describe how people are driven by callings or enforced desires, animating people to do what they do (Appadurai, 2011; Boltanski & Chiapello, 2005; Stavrakakis, 2010). Furthermore we draw on the idea of hauntology as it has been developed by Derrida, primarily in 'Specters of Marx' (Derrida, 1994; Brøgger 2014; 2016).
We unfold ‘the animating spirit’ and haunting as a temporal matter/an absent present through Slavoj Zizek’s reading of Lacanian psychoanalysis (Zizek 1989; 1992). This approach has been used within critical management studies to study the performativity of particular forms of governance and its entanglements with subjectivity, fantasy and desire (Contu & Willmott, 2006; Glynos & Howarth, 2007; Stavrakakis, 2010).
We conceptualise the ghostly as ‘the spirit’ and the ‘absent present’ in the interplay between the three Lacanian orders, and use the concepts of fantasy, desire and drive to focus on how the animating spirit can be understood as desire produced through the fantasy of the desire of the Other. Furthermore we use Zizek’s idea of a space between ‘the two Deaths’ as a space both marked with the urge to settle symbolic accounts, but also as a space without fantasy and desire, marked by pure drive. This is where we may go looking for teachers, who refuse to forget, but who are also turned into ‘working dead’ or as some teachers formulate it, 'teaching machines', doing their job, but without their former spirit of teaching.
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