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Punishment and Violence in Organisation Studies



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Marrison, Adrian 


This thesis explores the understudied theme of violence and punishment within organization studies. It takes the form of three journal style papers that draw on ethnographic data from two different settings. The first paper explores the use of extreme practices by vigilantes through an empirical case of a British pedophile hunting team, offering a theoretical contrition by showing that these practices are animated by the heroic logic of the vigilante lifeworld and its associated “ways-of-being.” The second paper focuses on why frontline workers use discretion knowing this puts them at risk of blame for straying from the official rules. Using empirical material gathered from a twelve-month ethnography of prison officers, it theorizes that the empowerment these workers gain from using discretion outweighs the risk of managerial discipline they knowingly incur through its use. From the same empirical study of prison officers, the third paper investigates how actors can construct a credible threat of violence in contexts where its exercise would be extremely costly to them. It finds that the officers utilise tough but cooperative prisoners to establish a threat of violence and theorizes that they perform three kinds of social-symbolic work on these prisoners to communicate the credibility of this threat to the inmate community. Each paper offers its own specific theoretical contribution: to vigilantism (unofficial punishment), discretion (the underuse of official punishments/rules), and violence (specifically its threat). Taken together, this offers a body of scholarly work that significantly improves our understanding of punishment and violence within organization research.





de Rond, Mark


organisational theory


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
ESRC (1923174)
Economic and Social Research Council (1923174)