Announcements and Calls

The Political Economy of Organization


The Political Economy of Organization

Possibilities for Liberation and Alternatives

Steffen Böhm (Essex, UK), Rafael Kruter Flores (Porto Alegre, Brazil), Maria Ceci Misoczky (Porto Alegre, Brazil)

Sub-theme 9: to take place at the 5th Latin American and European Meeting on Organization Studies (LAEMOS), Havana, Cuba, April 2-5, 2014,

Call for Abstracts 

The history of capitalist development is a history of the political economy of organization. The goal of capitalist organization is to organize in such a way that surplus value and the hegemony of capital are continuously reproduced (Marx, 1976). In this way, capital is always about the organization of, what Marx (1992) calls, ‘total social capital’.

‘Total social capital’ has also become possible because ‘organization’ has been reified into a noun and hijacked by managerialism. Organization is usually taken to refer to formal reified organizations and managerialism has become the ‘hegemonic model of organization’ and a ‘generalized technology of control’ (Parker, 2002) which has been applied to all strata of the economy, culture and society, spanning all corners of the world. Global neoliberal capitalism is a managerial system that aims to achieve maximum capital accumulation by way of rationalization, hierarchization and simplification. It manages peoples, cultures, societies, economies and nature from a distance, reducing the complexity of life and being to numbers, metrics and monetary transactions.

As part of this context, Organization Studies has been dominated by Management and, as a consequence, subordinated to the typical managerialist obsession with practice and novelty, despising the research which does not contribute to the practice of management and defining as irrelevant the study of the organization of social struggles. We consider that the consolidation of Organization Studies liberated from management is indispensable at least for those intending to be critical. In this way, to widen the ways in which we study organization requires the abandonment of restrictive understandings of it as units of analysis. Misoczky (2011), for example, inspired by Freire (2005) and Dussel (2004), defines organization as the collective inter-subjective act which is a means for the praxis of liberation and a learning space for the experimentation of liberating organizational practices.

To articulate the understanding of the organization of ‘total social capital’ with the organization of resistance and liberating struggles requires the widening of the field of Organization Studies to include the ‘political economy of organization’, moving beyond the proposition by Jones and Böhm (2002) of a ‘general economy of organization’ through the incorporation of value as a key concept.

The ‘political economy of organization’ needs a universal definition of organization which should be articulated with the ontological critique of capitalist social relations. It should conceive life as part of the organization of a historically determined social metabolism which is conditioned by the production of value and by the dynamics of class struggle. Therefore, the production of value produces specific forms or organization related to different moments of social life defined by Marx (1976) and reviewed by Harvey (2010): relations to nature, modes of production, reproduction of daily life, mental conceptions of the world, social relations and technology. All of these six strata, as well as their joint articulation, in capitalism, are organized to the production of surplus value in a class struggle dynamic. Even though, they can also be and are imagined and organized differently by a variety of different groups, communities and social movements around the world. Such view of organization is hence deeply political.

We call for papers that engage with the themes articulated in the text above. Papers could discuss the following topics (amongst many others):

  • Critiques of the specific contemporary forms of value production including the production of nature, the privatization of commons and the organized resistance of peoples
  • Critical studies of development and social struggles against extractivism and megaprojects
  • Contributions of Latin American thought to the political economy of organizations
  • The organization of social struggles and organizational practices of popular social movements
  • The organization of popular insurgent movements around the world: from the Arab spring to the Brazilian autumn
  • The role of direct action and violence in popular insurgent movements
  • Rebel cities – multiple expression of rebellion within the urban space
  • Education and social struggles – popular demands and the organization of popular universities
  • Ethics of liberation and the production of the consensus of the oppressed
  • Refusing the reification of the organizational format – critical reflections about ‘autonomous’ practices such as self-management and cooperatives


Please submit abstracts of max 1000 words through the website (select sub-theme 9) by 15 November 2013. Please note that all abstracts need to be submitted through the website. Notification of acceptance and inclusion in the conference will be given by 20 December 2013.

About the convenors

Steffen Böhm is Director of the Essex Sustainability Institute and Professor in Management and Sustainability at the University of Essex, UK. His research focuses on political economies and ecologies of organization, management and the environment. He was a co-founder of ephemera: theory & politics in organization. He is also co-founder and co-editor of the open publishing press MayFlyBooks (, as well as Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements ( He has published four books: Repositioning Organization Theory: Impossibilities and Strategies (Palgrave), Against Automobility (Blackwell), Upsetting the Offset: The Political Economy of Carbon Markets (Mayfly) and The Atmosphere Business (ephemera/Mayfly).

Rafael Kruter Flores has recently finished his PhD in Administration at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil. His thesis focused on the contributions of Marxism to understanding the capitalist appropriation of water and social struggles for water as a commons. He is a member of the Organization and Liberation Praxis research group, and has published the group’s first book, which has the same name. His research interests are water property and social struggles; exctractivism in Latin America; political economy of organization and the organization of social movements. Email:

Maria Ceci Misoczky is a professor and researcher of Organization Studies at the Postgraduate Administration Program at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre, Brazil). Her research interests include the organization of social struggles, focusing on socio-environmental conflicts and anti-capitalist movements in Latin America. She also coordinates the Research Group Organization and Liberating Praxis and is the editor-in-chief of REBELA – Revista Brasileira de Estudos Latino-Americanos (Brazilian Journal of Latin American Studies). Email:

Dussel, E. (2004) ‘Hacia una Arquitectónoica de la Ética de la Liberación’, in Apel, K.-O. and Dussel, E., Ética del discurso y ética de la liberación, Madrid, Trotta, pp. 339-366.
Freire, P. (2005) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum.
Harvey, D. (2010) A companion to Marx’s capital. New York: Verso.
Jones, C. and Böhm, S. (2002) Hors d’oeuvre, ephemera, 2(4): 277-280.
Marx, K. (1976) Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. 1, trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin.
Marx, K. (1992) Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. 2, trans. David Fernbach. London: Penguin.
Misoczky, M.C. (2011) World visions in dispute in contemporary Latin America: development x harmonic life. Organization. 18(3): 345-363.
Parker, M. (2002) Against Management: Organization in the Age of Managerialism. Cambridge: Polity.