Human Relations

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 179–203 | Cite as

Beyond Happy Families: A Critical Reevaluation of the Control-Resistance-Identity Triangle

  • Yiannis Gabriel


In this article, the author explores the natureof contemporary organizational controls, the extent towhich they can be said to colonize employeesubjectivity, and the types of resistance which theygenerate. Labor process, psychoanalytic, critical theory,and Foucauldian perspectives are juxtaposed and a numberof similarities and divergences are noted. It is arguedthat many of these perspectives prematurely lament the end of employee recalcitrance andexaggerate the magnitude and totality of organizationalcontrols, generating over-managed and overcontrolledimages of individuals, organizations, and societies. It is proposed that a rapprochement ofpsychoanalytic and labor theory approaches can lead toan appreciation of unmanaged and unmanageable terrainsin organizations, in which human agency may berediscovered, neither as a class-conscious proletariat nor asa transcendental subject, but as a struggling, feeling,thinking, suffering subject, one capable of obeying anddisobeying, controlling and being controlled, losing control and escaping control, definingand redefining control for itself and forothers.



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Copyright information

© The Tavistock Institute 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yiannis Gabriel
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Work and Employment Research Centre, School of ManagementUniversity of BathBathUK
  2. 2.Work and Employment Research Centre, School of ManagementUniversity of BathUK

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