This article introduces the term demotics of management by asking why so much management literature reads like a cliché. Typically this question has been approached by seeing the cliché as strategic. This article instead views the cliché as symptomatic. It marks a growing problem—how can management track labor out of the workplace and into the realm of social reproduction, a realm that is increasingly, with the tendency of immaterial labor, directly productive. This problem has produced not only the explosion of popular management literature, particularly in the United States, in the last 20 years, but also what might be called a demotics of management. This term may be understood as the proliferation of places where labor-power might be found. But the term also names management’s growing limits when faced with the dispersion and intensification of what Marx called the social individual. Management cannot adequately measure the labor it finds, and therefore must resort to miraculating what it encounters, to use a concept from the collaboration of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. The crisis of measurement brought on by the growing dominance of what Marx named the General Intellect is a profound challenge not only to management but specifically to its recording-machine, accounting. With the mounting crisis in recording, the very frenzy of popular management discourse reveals more than ever the threat that social reproductive labor already possesses the sociality to value itself differently and independently. The demotics of management thus marks both the proliferation of management in daily life, but also the prior, or what C.L.R. James might have called the completed, organization of immaterial labor that management encounters. Left to repeat what is already completed management can only utter the cliché, however, manically. At the same time, the cliché in management literature does mark the accomplishment of the circuit of exchange value, as it has since Taylor, even as it hints at the possibility of the separation from capital of a mass intellectuality where socialized labor may come to account for itself.
Management, General intellect, Demotics of management, Mass intellectuality, Immaterial labor
Business | Strategic Management Policy
Strategy and Organisation
Critical Perspectives on Accounting
Why is management a cliché?. (2005). Critical Perspectives on Accounting. 16, (5), 579-591. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School Of Business.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/lkcsb_research/5456
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