There is a multiplicity of frames to be analyzed in this last SEPTET element.
Spectacles are defined as – 'intertextual.' Various types of spectacle are intertextual' to other spectacles (the types are explained below); spectacles are embedded in socio-economic contexts by decontextualizing and recontextualizing.
It is time to realize that Spectacles, the least important of Aristotle's (350 BCE) day, is now the most important theatrical element of late modern capitalism (Boje, 2002c).
I seek also to analyze the more hidden (below the spectacle surface) aspects of the Metascript and Metatheatre. Spectacles, without critical reflection too easily become limit-situations or frames uncritical thinking and untested feasibility; they become hegemonic ways to control mass consumers and mass students in Colleges of Business.
The relation of spectacle to carnival is dialectical. Spectacles of power/oppression are opposed by carnivals of resistance. Out of the dialectic, once in a while, you get a third option, I call Festivalism, actual dialog. For more on this see the FESTIVALISM study guides.
SPECTACLE - Spectacle goes back to Roman gladiators, the appropriation of entertainment, art, and festival for political and control purposes. By spectacle I mean Debord’s (1967) the Society of the Spectacle, a theatrics that is often violent and oppressive social control that masquerades as a celebration of progress by recycling pseudo-reforms, false-desires, and selective sightings of progressive evolution, never devolution.
FESTIVAL - By festival I mean Victor Turner's theatrics that is more related to in-the-moment enjoyment of a thing for its own sake. In ancient times, festival transgressed the boundary of nature and culture. See Festivalism web site.
CARNIVAL - By carnival I mean Bakhtin's theory of the theatrics of rant and madness seeking repair to separation and alienation, a call for help from corporate power, a cry of distress and repression mixed with laughter and humorous exhibition meant to jolt power into awareness of its psychic organization. Carnivalesque examples (McDonalds) (Carnival web site).
For Aristotle (350 BCE), spectacle was the least important of six elements. Spectacles for Aristotle is just the “stage appearance of the actors” (1449b: 31). It is “an attraction, is the least artistic of all the parts, and has least to do with the art of poetry… the getting-up of the Spectacle is more a matter for the costumier than the poet” (1450b: 16-20). “The tragic fear and pity may be aroused by Spectacle…” (1453b: 1) but producing the effect by Spectacle rather than choice of acts in a plot, says Aristotle, “is less artistic, and requires extraneous aid” (1453b: 6). Once the least important, it is now the most important.
Smith (Anything from The Wealth of Nations and the Moral Sentiments). Do a search on Adam Smith's Moral Sentiments and his book on Capitalism and you will find many references to the the internalized spectator. I can not stress enough how important these books are. Smith connected ethics to economics, and sought to influence through the "internalized spectator" (I call it the 3rd voice), the conduct of capitalism, by seeking local community control of enterprise; Smith did not think big (monopoly) business was healthy, since it migrated to where it did not live. He wrote about spectators to the spectacle that could look upon the moral sentiments of their own agency. He proposed a distinction between “partial spectator” who sees with self-seeking interest and the “impartial spectator” who is able look upon their behavior with moral sentiments. Please See SMITH study guide for more on his views on Spectators.
Burke’s (1945) dramatism translated spectacle into scene. To me, it is much more, and I therefore opt to redefine Aristotle's spectacle, in the critical postmodern dramaturgical turn.
When I ride my BMW cycle, its not like riding in a car, where a FRAME separates me from the road and Nature. On my motorcycle, I am inches away from the asphalt, I can feel the wind resisting my motion, and I can feel crosswinds, the sun, and rain. In a car, I watch the screen (windshield) like its a TV screen. On my BMW or my old HAWG, I am not a spectator; I am in the moment, focused on my situation.
Pirsig takes his BMW cycle to a garage. The shop has loud music playing, the mechanics seem detached and distracted from their work. They are spectators, by-standers to their work. Some mechanic actually takes a hammer to his valve covers, after rounding off the bolts with the wrong size socket. Pirsig says, "Just stop!" (p. 23).
"Just give me some new covers and I'll take it the way it is." I got out of there as fast as possible, noisy tappets, shot tappet covers, greasy machine, down the road, and then felt a bad vibration at speeds over twenty. At the curb I discovered two of the four engine-mounting bolts were missing and a nut was missing from the third. (p. 23).
Pirsig wants to know why? He say "the radio was a clue." "Their speed was another clue. They were really slopp8ing things around in a hurry and not looking where they slopped them." (p. 24). But Pirsig says:
the biggest clue seemed to be their expressions. They were hard to explain. Good-natured, friendly, easy-going -- and uninvolved. They were like spectators. You had the feeling they had just wandered in there themselves and somebody had handed them a wrench. There was no identification with the job (p. 24).
The mechanics had a spectator attitude, they read instructions from "spectator manuals" and looked at motorcycles as isolated from time and space, and no relationship at all to their own spectator attitude. In the Spectacle, we become spectators to our own spectacle production, following metascripts without much thought, trying hard not to become identified with our character.
For Debord (1967) spectacle is the basis of late capitalism. The four types of spectacle include concentrated, diffuse, integrated and mega (Best & Kellner, 1997, 2001). ). Best and Kellner (1997) develop Debord’s spectacle types and in 2001 propose the “megaspectacle,” our national fetish to use the media to turn war or scandal into mass entertainment (e.g. the Gulf War and War on Terrorism are popular culture events, as were Watergate, the OJ Simpson trial, and the funeral of Princess Diana).
In sum, I assume that contemporary organizations produce, distribute, and consume spectacle Metatheatrics.
What follows is excerpts from my book Theatres of Capitalism (Boje, 2002c), an all conference paper on Enron presented in London in July (Boje, 2002a), an Academy of Management conference paper presented in August (Boje, 2002b), and a paper my colleagues and I have under review (Boje, Rosile, Durand, & Luhman, 2002). Please read and reference the original papers (See below).
Concentrated Spectacles - the theatrical performances of the firm; how the spectacle is produced.
Diffuse Spectacles - the theatrical performances of spectacle in the market. Spectacles diffuse through franchising and advertising, and dissemination throughout the globe.
Integrated Spectacles - these integrate the first two (concentrated plus diffuse). Its like McDonalds that has a spectacle stage in each franchise site, has diffused to thousands of sites (and stages), and tries to integrate the two. Now all three phases of intertextual are manifest: spectacles are produced, distributed, and consumed by the masses.
Mega Spectacles - from time time to time the integration disintegrates into scandal (megaspectacle). And these become mass entertainment. You know the examples (Watergate, OJ Simpson, Rodney King, Clinton and Monica, Princess Diana's funeral, & Enrongate).
In the face of a disaster, such as a pipeline accident, the spectacle is a ceremonial occasion by the State to not only investigate causes and effects of disaster, but to legitimate dominant institutions, especially the State and the agency convening the inquiry. Gephart's theory for addressing inquiry legitimation spectacles comes from critical theory (e.g. Habermas, 1973) and from ethnomethodology concepts of sensemaking (Garfinkel, 1967). Sensemaking is defined by Gephart (1992: 118) "as the verbal, intersubjective process of interpreting actions and events." Gephart (1992: 119) investigates "how sensemaking practices are used to transform (varied) preliminary interpretations of disasters into culturally rational, sensible and standardized interpretations assumedly shared by key inquiry participants." Habermas (1973) argues that capitalism produces contradictions that destroy the very conditions on which capitalism depends, which leads to further contradictions and crises. The State intervenes in capitalism to organize disorganized features (defects) using non-market mechanisms/remedies (paraphrase of Gephart, 1992: 116). Gephart's analysis fits neatly with the Dramaturgic method of Septet elements (spectacles, plots, characters, themes, dialogs, rhythms & frames). :
Spectacles - In Gephart's (1992: 115-116) terms, Spectacle is a "discursive, ceremonial production of state legitimation which occurs when a public inquiry is undertaken as a major collective response" to disasters. The Public Inquiry Spectacle supplements its performance with two (supposed) de-politicizing social practices: (1) bureaucratic rules, (2) mystifying terminology in the dialog. In the Spectacle, communicative distortion occurs. The State and Capital, in the case of the pipe line accident inquiry, met in a de-politicized manner to work out legal and economic interests. It is quite interesting that in this Spectacle, the inquiry was specifically mandated to reject any attempts by parties to "fix any blame for what happened" (Gephart, 1992: 124). Nonetheless, the ceremonial players argue that the use of situational logic by the workers is to blame for the accident (p. 132). It is therefore a spectacle of institutional legitimation, accomplished through the ritual of taking testimony, doing quite focused cross-examination, and translating the disaster into a top-down logic of safety regulation practices.
Plots - While no blame is to be found (other than to blame to workers for torching themselves0, there is a plot. Certain critical events and characters are grasped together in the spectacle ceremony into plot lines. The major plot is that the State and Corporate characters are in control, that the system works safely, excpet with workers make situated (common sense) decisions that bring about disaster.
Characters - The cast of characters at the ceremonial spectacle include the District Manager and Assistant District Mangers of a natural gas pipeline company (WPT) that linked producers to consumer markets; the Government Energy Board (GEB), a public regulatory agency of the federal government; the widow of a dead worker, the ghosts of two dead workers, and three other workers who sustained injuries resulting from the accident. There are also various lawyers and engineers. Spectators included the news media and legally interested parties attending the hearing.
Themes - Dumb behaviors that do not correspond to top-down logics such as procedure manuals, get attributed to individual characters who short-cut the formal process. As hoc emergent practices arise to deal with unsafe situations. The substitutes for top-down procedure are contested by officials when disaster strikes.
Dialogs - Habermas (1979) posits four (dialogic) speech acts and corresponding validity claims for distortion free dialog (as cited in Gephart, 1992: 117):
communicatives claim comprehensibility and function to create a discursive environment of recognizable utterances;
representatives claim sincerity or truthfulness and function to disclose the speaker's subjectivity;
regulatives claim to be contextually appropriate and function to establish legitimate interpersonal relations, and
constatives claim truth and function to represent facts.
Gephart's analysis shows that the sensemaking by characters in the spectacle dialogs violates each of the speech act claims by introducing distortion (e.g. in communicatives, one character failed to produce comprehensible utterances in answer to key questions). Corporate and State legitimacy is re-established through the speech act violations.
Rhythm - The environment is understood as predictable, composed of recurrent, normal risks in pipeline operation and maintenance.
Frames - Stakeholders at the Inquiry ceremony use different frames: Government adopts a hierarchical (top-down logics) rationality (procedural legitimation); corporations use market rationality; and workers use sectarian rationality (more situated logics, such as common sense). Situated logics involve theory of schema to provide informal inductive rationale. There is a frame battle in the Inquiry whereby making non-sense of the others' frame is tactical. Stakeholders use 'breaching' and 'disrupting' tactics to make the others' dialog confusing and senseless. Stakeholders also use different criteria for validating their claims (sensemaking practices are unique) and to undermine others' validity claims (e.g. non-sense making).
All seven elements of the Inquiry Spectacle constitute its Metatheatre.
Metatheatre and Metascript - The inquiry is a legitimation ceremony, a Metatheatre in which ritualistic performance accomplishes re-legitimation of the institutions with a stake in the disaster. Public inquiry is a (meta) scripted theatrical performance. Each character has a scripted part (not written, but oral scripting). There are definite limits on the direction the inquiry is allowed to take. And the climax is to re-legitimate State and Corporate institutions, not to fix the system.
Finally, the Gephart analysis relates to antenarrating.
Antenarrating - Sensemaking practices are used to transform antenarrative (preliminary interpretations) of disaster into sensemaking frames that are shared by dominant stakeholders to the inquiry spectacle ceremony. Out of the inquiry's antenarrative interpretations (multiple themes & frames), an official narrative is negotiated.
In Boje (2002a) and in Boje, Rosile, Durant, and Luhman (2002), we explore eight antenarrative clusters, sorted by spectacle type (concentrated, diffuse, integrated, & mega). Enron interpenetrates four spectacles (concentrated, diffuse, integrated and mega) with rhizomatic antenarrative ensembles. in the Enron Spectacle, I apply Gephart's public inquiry legitimation theory to the congressional hearings into the Enron collapse.
Our point is quite simple. Enron is Theatre. Enron accomplishes its theatre to persuade and seduce employees, investors, and students into the willing suspension of disbelief using Spectacles. We live in what Boje (2002c) calls Theatres of Capitalism, in what Guy Debord (1967) calls the Society of the Spectacle and what our friends A. Fuat Firat and Nikhilesh Dholakia call the Political Economy of Theatres of Consumption (1998).
Aristotle (written 350 BCE). E.g.
(1954) translation Aristotle: Rhetoric and Poetics. Intro by Friedrich Solmsen;
Rhetoric translated by W. Rhys Roberts; Poetics translated by Ingram Bywater.
NY: The Modern Library (Random House). Poetics was written 350 BCE. http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/poetics.html
Best, Steven & Douglas Kellner (2001). Postmodern Adventure. NY/London: The Guilford Press.
Boje, D. M. (2001a). Narrative
Methods for Organizational and Communication Research. London Sage.
D. M. (2001b). Carnivalesque Resistance to Global Spectacle: A Critical
Postmodern Theory of Public Administration. Administrative Theory & Praxis.
Vol. 23 (3): 431-458.
Boje, D. M. (2001c). Global Theatrics and Capitalism. Presentation to Academy of Management Conference, Washington D.C., August.
Boje, D. M. (2002a). Critical
Dramaturgical Analysis of Enron Antenarratives and Metatheatre. Plenary
presentation to 5th International Conference on Organizational Discourse: From
Micro-Utterances to Macro-Inferences, Wednesday 24th - Friday 26th July
Boje, D. M. (2002b) Enron
Metatheatre: A Critical Dramaturgy Analysis of Enron’s Quasi-Objects. Paper
presented at the Networks, Quasi-Objects, and Identity: Reintegrating Humans,
Technology, and Nature session of Denver Academy of Management Meetings. Tuesday
August 13, 2002.
Boje, D. M. (2002c) Theatres of Capitalism. Book being published by Hampton Press (San Francisco). Available until publication, on line, at http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/theatrics/index.htm (password is required).
Boje, D.M., Ann L. Cunliffe & John T. Luhman (2002). A dialectic perspective on the organizational theatre metaphor. Paper under review.
Boje, D. M. & G. A. Rosile (2002a). The Metatheatre Intervention Manual. To be published by ISEOR Research Institute of University of Lyon 2, France.
Boje, D. M. & G. A. Rosile (2002b). Theatrics of SEAM. Paper to be
published in Journal of Organiztional Change Management Special Issue on
Socio-Economic Approach to Management (SEAM), guest edited by Henri Saval.
D. M., Grace Ann Rosile, Rita A. Durant & John T. Luhman (2002). Enron
spectacle theatrics: A critical dramaturgical analysis. Under review at
Organization Studies, for special issue on organization theatre.
Burke, K. (1945). A grammar of motives. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Debord Guy (1967). Society of the Spectacle. La Société du Spectacle was first published in 1967 by Editions, Buchet-Chastel (Paris); it was reprinted in 1971 by Champ Libre (Paris). The full text is available in English at http://www.nothingness.org/SI/debord/index.html It is customary to refer to paragraph numbers in citing this work.
Gephart, Robert P. Jr. (1992). Sensemaking, communicative distortion and the logic of public inquiry legitimation. Industrial Crisis Quarterly. Vol. 6 (2): 115-135.
Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis. New York, NY: Harper Colophon Books.
Pirsig, Robert (1974). Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. NY: Bantam Books.
[i] See Banerjee (2002); In another version it is only 75 employees: ‘To impress a group of visiting Wall Street stock analysts, Enron executives once ordered about 75 employees, including secretaries, throughout its headquarters to come down to the trading floor to man phones and pretend they were making deals. It was a scene right out of The Sting - and it worked. The analysts left believing Enron couldn't make deals fast enough” (Gaber, 2002); A third source says only dozens of employees took part in the masquerade – See Cron (2002).
[i] Interview with Steven Sonsino of London Business School on July 25th – According to Sonsino (who worked as a journalist), stories are not pursued until some major State institution is ready to pursue some executive or corporation.
[i] Watkins quote is from a 200 plus page transcript of the February 14th 2002 Congressional hearings.
[i] Firat & Dholakia (1998) are equally important. Their marketing studies of Theatre of Consumption are reviewed in Boje (2002a). In addition Saner (1999, 2000) uses theatre in a more postmodern way in his notion of Off-Off Broadway consulting.
[ii] One director, John Urquhart, earned more than $ 490,000 in consulting fees from Enron. Another netted $ 72,000 for advice on its European business. Two others worked for non-profits on the receiving end of Enron generosity. Then there were the obscenely large salaries that board members earned -- $ 300,000-plus in cash and stocks, nearly three times the average for big firms (USA Today, 2002).
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