The 6th Australasian Caucus of the Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism (ACSCOS) - Theme: Anxiety and Organization

Last updated, 27 Jan 2015
Additional info: 
Submission Deadline: 31 July 2015
Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
30/11/2015 to 02/12/2015

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Conference Theme: Anxiety and Organization

The 6th Australasian Caucus of the Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism will be held at the Macquarie University, Sydney from 30 November to 2 December 2015.

As with the previous conferences held in Brisbane (2004), Auckland (2006), Sydney (2008) and Melbourne (2010 and 2012), this year’s ACSCOS will be a meeting ground for those broadly interested in what, for want of better words, can be referred to as critical, aesthetic, avante garde, arts-based,  non-conventional and transdisciplinary approaches to studying management, work and organizations.   We sincerely hope that Australian and New Zealand colleagues will respond to this call and help to generate a vibrant and productive mechanism for exchange. We also hope that colleagues from elsewhere in the world will join us in our corner of the southern hemisphere just as we so often trek to the north. More generally we look forward to a stimulating, collegial, productive and supportive gathering.

Call for Papers

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom” Søren Kierkegaard once remarked.  With the liberty afforded by neo-liberalism, a new anxiety has been born. Ours is a globalized economic anxiety where our freedoms are directed towards clambering over the line that separates winners from losers, rich from poor, those ahead and those left behind.  Organizations are not innocent.  Audits, performance measures, short term targets, and the rest of the plethora of metrics and measurements weigh heavily as liberty is reduced to the freedom to compete in a less than zero sum game.  The rules of this restless game are that the future is uncertain and the present is insecure. The agitation is heightened by uneasy managers enlisted to engender and foment anxiety in others.

On a geo-political scale there is the freedom to enter into the circuits of capital that whizz around the globe without care of consequence of what is left in their wake. This is not W.H. Auden’s age of anxiety that heralded the alienation of an industrialized world. Our anxiety is that of a world which we identify with all too much. A world where organization and management hold centre stage in people’s lives – for better or for worse, like it or not. The anxiety is one with which we must identify; to belong; to hope for the spoils; to abate the fear of nothing; to live; to survive.

As Susan Bordo assesses, this anxiety manifests too in the obsessions of unobtainable idealised bodies and lives that are little more that the logical product of the dominant cultural fantasies. Anxiety is written on the bodies of people in organizations whose eyes are never far from the mirror that is given to them as a sad gift from on high.  Authenticity as a once hopeful purpose is replaced with the desire to be that which the hierarchy approves, whatever it takes – hard hours at the gym, late hours in the office, 24×7 email demands, painful diets, the surgeon’s knife, the discipline of the personal coach, or the handy advice of the management guru.

In the ruthless mire of neo-liberal performativity, our conference has as its theme ‘anxiety and organizations’.  We are calling for papers that examine organizationally related phenomena from the perspective of anxiety and the related and often ambivalent feelings of fear, freedom, desire, choice, dread, responsibility, worry and uncertainty.  In one direction this could mean expounding the organizational structures, cultures, pressures and effects that that lead to and are caused by anxiety. In another, the focus might be on the productive possibilities of confronting anxiety and the paths of freedom away from the anxiety of organizations.


Papers and abstracts are invited that directly address the conference theme, or address other open issues.

Two alternative forms of submission are invited: abstracts of up to 800 words or full papers of up to 7,000 words.

Full Papers: Full papers will be independently peer reviewed. Accepted papers will be published in conference proceedings.

Abstracts: Abstracts will be peer reviewed, and made available to delegates prior to the colloquium.

Workshops and Symposia

We also encourage and welcome the submission of proposals for workshops and symposia. We will consider proposals for events in any format including, but not limited to, interactive sessions, themed paper presentations, arts based presentations, performances, and anything your imagination can stretch to!  Time slots of 90 minutes are available.


Papers, abstracts and proposals should be submitted to here by 31 July 2015. Notification of acceptance will be given prior to 4 September 2015.


Papers addressing the theme might consider the following subjects, although this list is far from exhaustive:

•       Identity, organizations and anxiety

•       Anxiety and desire

•       Humanity, anxiety and relationships

•       Fetishes and anxiety

•       Cultural constructions of anxieties on bodies

•       Financial anxiety after the crisis

•       The anxiety of insecure and precarious work

•       The productive possibilities of anxiety

•       Worker resistance as a response to and/or harbinger of anxiety

•       Work and anxiety in popular culture

•       Discrimination and the production of anxiety

•       The anxiety of leadership

•       Organization as a mechanism of repression

•       Management and control as an attempt to appease anxiety

•       Gender as constitutive of anxiety in organizations

•       Anti-organizational protest as a response to anxiety

•       Possibilities for productive anxiety and a return to humanism

•       The anxiety of change and its management

•       The anxiety of consumerism

•       The institutionalization of anxiety

•       Anxiety and the compression of organizational time and space

•       Bureaucracy, post-bureaucracy and anxiety

•       Income inequality and anxiety

•       Cultures of anxiety

•       The anxiety of ageing/the anxiety of youth

•       Anxiety and the freedom of expression

•       Anxiety, transparency and surveillance

•       Organizational and business ethics as conditions of anxiety

•       The normalisation of anxiety and the medicalisation of calm

•       Theoretical approaches to anxiety and related phenomena

•       Performance anxiety

•       Anxiety and contemporary academic life

•       Flesh and anxiety and its management such as cosmetic surgery

 •      LGBTI and the anxiety of sexuality and sexual identity