Diversity and Struggles in Critical Performativity. The Case of French Community-Supported Agriculture
This article contributes to the debates about critical performativity (CP), a research program aimed at reorienting critical management studies toward affirmative and transformative research. While some scholars explain how CP can be engineered to create alternative organizations, others remain skeptical, exposing its potential for failure. We examine alternative organizations with a particular focus on the struggles in which they are entangled, such as competition with other performative programs and normative agendas. These struggles cause permanent reconfigurations to agencements and make the future effects of performative engines uncertain. To understand these reconfigurations, we look at the transformation of already established alternative organizations. We conducted a case study on French Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), which is illustrative of CP “in the field,” looking at how the CSA network can engineer local organizations. We show how the struggles between competing performative programs produce diversity, in time and space, of organizational settings and goals within the French CSA movement. Our contributions are twofold. Firstly, because of the struggles in which it is entangled, a performative engine can create diverse and potentially competing normative content rather than a single stable agenda. Secondly, deviations from the initial normative content are not neutral and may undermine the subversive potential of those agencements. Ultimately, we call for a research agenda which would look beyond the implementation of subversive practices to question the way subversive agencements develop, and which would acknowledge that CP is also about struggles between competing engines.
Copyright (c) 2020 Alban Ouahab, Étienne Maclouf
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