Deconstruct This!                  revised February 28, 2000


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Every story excludes.
Every story is not alone.
No story is ideologically neutral.
Every story presents a hierarchy of relationships.
Every story lives and breaths it's meaning in a web of other stories.
Every story legitimates a centered point of view, a worldview, or an ideology.
Every story self-deconstructs since it is embedded in changing meaning contexts. To begin, please press each GREY BUTTON BELOW - Deconstruction reveals the hidden text


BEGINNERS LEVEL - the basics  return to index

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Who is Jacques Derrida?

Encyclopedia paragraph on J.D.
Photo of Jacques D. and works listed by year
Derrida Online -  Series of Articles and Interviews
Of Grammatology Site, not the book - Jacques Derrida
OF THE HUMANITIES AND THE PHILOSOPHICAL DISCIPLINE. The Right to Philosophy from the Cosmopolitical Point of View

Petit Récit Site  - one page set of concepts & definitions
In One Sentence -
In 2 Paragraphs -
In 1 page - Encyclopedia

Example of Deconstruction from Disney article (Boje, 1995).
Table 1: Story Deconstruction Guidelines (Adapted from Boje & Dennehy, 1993) 
1. Duality Search. Make a list of any bipolar terms, any dichotomies that are used in the story.  Include the term even if only one side is mentioned. For example, in male-centered and or male-dominated organization stories, men are central and women are marginal others. One term mentioned implies its partner.

2. Reinterpret the Hierarchy.  A story is one interpretation or hierarchy of an event from one point of view. It usually has some form of hierarchical thinking in place. Explore and reinterpret the hierarchy (e.g. in the duality terms how one dominates the other) so you can understand its grip.

3. Rebel Voices. Deny the authority of the one voice. Narrative centers marginalize or exclude. To maintain a center takes enormous energy.  What voices are not being expressed in this story? Which voices are subordinate or hierarchical to other voices (e.g. Who speaks for the trees?)?

4. Other side of the story.  Stories always have two or more sides. What is the side of the story (usually a marginalized, under-represented, or even silent)?  Reverse the story, but putting the bottom on top, the marginal in control, or the back stage up front. For example, reverse the male-center, by holding a spot light on its excesses until it becomes a female center In telling the other side, the point is not to replace one center with another, but to show how each center is in a constant state of change and disintegration.

5. Deny the Plot. Stories have plots, scripts, scenarios, recipes, and morals.  Turn these around (move from romantic to tragic or comedic to ironic). 

6. Find the Exception.  What is the exception that breaks the rule that does not fit the recipe that escapes the strictures of the principle. State the rule in a way that makes it seem extreme or absurd. 

7. Trace what is between the lines.  Trace what is not said?  Trace what is the writing on the wall?  Fill in the blanks.  Storytellers frequently use "you know that part of the story."  Trace what  you are filling in.  With what alternate way could you fill it in? (E.g. trace tothe context, the back stage, the between, the intertext).

8. Resituate.  The point of doing 1 to 7 is to find a new perspective, one that resituates the story beyond its dualisms, excluded voices, or singular viewpoint.  The idea is to reauthor the story so that the hierarchy is resituated and a new balance of views is attained. Restory to remove the dualities and margins. In a resituated story there are no more centers. Restory to script new actions.

1. Adapted from Boje, D. M. & Dennehy, R. F. 1993 Managing in the Postmodern World:  America’s revolution against exploitation  (2nd ed.).  Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.  Appendix A contains a 7 part story deconstruction method. I have extended "Deny the Plot" by posing an eighth move. And I have redefined terms.
2. This new Chart Appears in the revised 1999 edition, Chapter 2
3. Source: Boje, D. M. Narrative Analysis (2001: 21 London: Sage), Adapted from Chapter 1.

4, A schematic of how the 8 analytic steps are realted CLICK HERE

The Eighth Move Critics of deconstruction call the first seven tactics in Table One mere destruction, but I think that is because they do not see or maybe refuse to see the end game, the eighth move. It is more than jsut a simple reversal. Resituation is the restorying of the plot, situation, characters, binary, hierarchy by bringing in new voices, exceptions, and enacting a reinvented plot. To resituate is to see the world both ways (see dominant and hidden text, and not get trapped by either). return to index
Sometimes there is a new viewpoint that is not the dominant or the marginal, but something transcending both views.
  • If we just do reversal, the hidden text becomes the dominant text..
  • Shades of meaning are very important!
  • Please Wave Mouse over button to see EIGHTH MOVE --------------------------------------------> 

  • You will note the the Geese and Fish seem to vibrate in Esher's Drawing.
    Press RED - MORE button to have image remain on screen.
  • Here is another example - this time you will note that in the EIGHTH MOVE that between the two images, a thrid image occurs.  This to me is the value of doing a RESITUATION. It is not to destruct, or just reverse, or to hold two images in consciousness, it its to RESITUATE a new move, the EIGHTH MOVE,  Between the fish and birds, the HORSES emerge.  (Source: Boje presentation at 1999 OBTC at NMSU.


  • TO CLOSE THE MOUSE OVER  WINDOW move cursor below the image boundaries.
  • Click on TOP of image to move it around. SLOWLY fiind border (see double arrows) to RESIZE it.
  • CLICK MORE button to hold the image in NEW window.

Defining deconstruction or laying out steps as in Table One is contrary to the spirit of Derrida’s idea.  "According to Derrida, all Western thought is based on the idea of a center – an origin, a Truth, and Ideal Form, a fixed Point, an Immovable Mover, an Essence, a God, a Presence, which is usually capitalized, and guarantees all meaning" (Powell, 1997: 21).Deconstruction is not a method; it is an epistemology.

Stories are a polysemous or having many meanings. To deconstruct is to actually analyze the relations between the dualities in stories-such as the empowered and disempowered, the central and the marginal characters, the essential and the inessential plots, the insider and the outsider to the firm - to show the differences and fragmentation embedded in stories and how storytelling is a legitimating and rationalizing practices. To only tell the happy side of a Disney or Nike or other corporate story, is to ignore the dark side. There are important differences between the stories of many storytellers within and around an organization. And with deconstruction, lines separating story and context become artifical.

Each story is a temporary consensus, an account that self-deconstructs as a multiplicity of local stories take lines of flight. the centered account becomes the marginal account, and the story of neutrality turns ideological. By focusing on the one offical account, one misses the details, the diffeences, the categories that are being reconstructed. We are always revising our stories, the accounts are unraveling, whether we deconstruct them or not.

What follows are some reference lists and study guides for doing story deconstruction.

Story deconstruction analysis can re-examine several inter-connected aspects of organizational stories (adapted form Boje & Dennehy, 1993: 340; Boje, 1998b,c and Boje, 2000 Narrative Analysis (Sage, forthcoming).
    More Beginner's material  return to index

INTERMEDIATE LEVEL   return to index

EXAMPLE 1 - Mary Parker Follett, the mother of management thought, did a form of deconstruction before Derrida invented the word. She would identify dualities, reinterpret them, and oftentimes resituate the duality into theory of cooperative power or co-power (Source: Chapter Two Part I).

EXAMPLE 2 - Deconstructions of Nike Corporation
Boje, D. M. 1999a  Is Nike Roadrunner or Wile E. Coyote? A Postmodern Organization Analysis of Double Logic, published in Journal of Business & Entrepreneurship. Special Issue (March, Vol. II) 77-109.. This is an analysis of the relationship between Nike activists and Nike. This is a pre publication draft.
SUMMARY - The Nike storytelling organization constructs through storied sense making practices its very legitimacy to employ young, female Asian workers to accumulate billions in capital. But, activist entrepreneurs are also virtual storytelling organizations, using the Internet to assemble delegitimation stories to damage the integrity of Nike, crafting stories to purposely deconstruct the dominant ideology and institutional memory of Nike, who they frame as Wile Coyote. Activists also provoke print media coverage, letter writing campaigns, and annual worldwide boycotts of Nike products.

MUTUAL DECONSTRUCTION - Each sees the others’ use of storytelling as a fiction that covers "real" and "empirical" stories. n terms of story construction, both Nike and activists are caught up in linear and non-linear stories and accuse the other of deception, and both use web technology to trip the other into the abyss (click for full Text).

1. Double Characterization.
2. Undecidability Cause and Effect Undecidability.
3. Agency indeterminancy.

Our three undecidabilities are examples of Derrida’s (1985: 32) "double interpretation," ways that make the separation of subjective story from objective empirical chronology impossible. The undecidability of the question, "who is Wile E. Coyote  and who is Roadrunner?: Nike or the activists?" speaks to the blurring of fantasy (what gets storied) and "real" (events) in postmodern relationships between global capitalism, activism, and popular culture.

Point - The point of the article is to suggest a resituation of the relationship between Nike and the web activists. To not just reverse the dominant/marginal duality but to see both in juxtaposition.

EXAMPLE 3 - See Cole, Cheryl L. 1997 "P.L.A.Y., Nike, and Michael Jordan: National Fantasy and the Racialization of Crime and Punishment, Center for Cultural Values and Ethics Department of Kinesiology Women's Studies Program The Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Louise Freer Hall, 906 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801

STUDY GUIDES   return to index

ADVANCED LEVEL  return to index

EXAMPLE: "Postmodern Détournement Analysis of the  Popular Mechanics Spectacle using  Stories and Photos of the Festive Community Life of Nickerson Gardens" by  DAVID  M. BOJE September 2, 1999

"Tympan" is Jacques Derrida's to his introduction to Margins of Philosophy (1972). "Tympan" enacts two columns side by side on each page. In this article, one the left is the complete Samuel Katz (1997) Popular Mechanics' article  titled "Felon Busters: When the cops are outgunned, LAPD SWAT breaks up the party." My purpose is to highlight the thin margin between photo-images and stories of Popular Mechanics mechanistic and Hobbesian account of urban combat technology and Nickerson Garden's Resident Management Corporation (NGRMC) mothers' organic and non-violent storytelling.

See: -  Debord, Guy and Gil J. Wolman 1956 "Methods of Détournement" In Les Lèvres Nues #8, May for full text. Debord and Woman pose the following constructs: minor détournements and deceptive détournements, which they define as".


Boje, D. M. 1995. "Stories of the Storytelling Organization: A Postmodern Analysis of Disney as 'Tamara-land.'" Academy of Management Journal. 38(4): 997-1035 (You can sign at ELECTRIC LIBRARY for 30 day trial download the article, but costs you $9.95/month) or email for a mailed and totally free copy.

Boje, D.M. & Rosile, Grace Ann 1994. "Diversities, Differences & Authors' Voices." Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 7(6): 8-17. This article is rooted i transcripts of my work with Nora King (see below). Its focus is on how to have voice  in field research and how to dialogue with the voice of  the Nickerson Gardens community.

Derrida, Jacques 1982 Margins of Philosophy. Translated by Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. This book contains the "Tympan" essay in its collection; Also consult A Derrida Reader: Between the Blinds. Peggy Kamuf (ed.). 1991 "Tympan," pp. 146-168. NY: Columbia University Press.

LINKS to Derrida - Good set of links
More Links - Extensive List of papers, books, reviews.
Extended Lists of Books about Derrida
Derrida Publications - Indexed
Works by Derrida - Good Listing


Deconstructing Las Vegas, Special Issue (2001) of M@n@gement Journal - (2001), Volume 4(3): 1-227 - Guest Editor, David M. Boje, Ph.D.

  • Boje, David M. (2001). Introduction to Deconstructing Las Vegas. M@n@gement Journal - on line - 4(3): 79-82.  PDF copy on line.

  • Boje, David M. (2001). Las Vegas Striptease Spectacles: Organization Power over the Body. M@n@gement Journal - on line - 4(3): 201-207. PDF copy on line.

  • Carr, Adrian (2001).Understanding the "Imago" Las Vegas: Taking our Lead from Homer's Parable of the Oarsmen. M@n@gement Journal - on line - 4(3): 122-140. PDF copy on line

  • Downs, Alexis, and Adrian Carr (2001). Archetypal Images at the Stardust Casino: Understanding Human Experience. M@n@gement Journal - on line - 4(3): 185-199.  PDF copy on line.

  • Firat, A. Fuat (2001). The Meanings and Messages of Las Vegas: The Present of our Future . M@n@gement Journal - on line - 4(3): 101-120.  PDF copy on line.

  • Gephart, Robert P., Jr. (2001). Safe Risk in Las Vegas. M@n@gement Journal - on line - 4(3): 141-158.  PDF copy on line.

  • Linstead, Stephen (2001). Death in Vegas: Seduction, Kitsch, and Sacrifice. M@n@gement Journal - on line - 4(3): 159-174. PDF copy on line

  • Magala, Slawomir J. (2001). Knowledge Gambles: Academic Casinos and Paradigmatic Roulettes . M@n@gement Journal - on line - 4(3): 209-216.  PDF copy on line.

  • Oswick, Cliff, and Tom Keenoy: (2001).Cinematic Re-Presentations of Las Vegas: Reality, Fiction and Compulsive Consumption. M@n@gement Journal - on line - 4(3): 217-227. PDF copy on line.

  • Ritzer, George, and Todd Stillman (2001). The Modern Las Vegas Casino-Hotel: The Paradigmatic New Means of Consumption. M@n@gement Journal - on line - 4(3):83-99. PDF copy on line

  • Sardy, Robert (2001). Queering Las Vegas: Personal Experience Stories of Gay Men. M@n@gement Journal - on line - 4(3): 175-183. PDF copy on line.

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