Contemporary Political Theory 6 (1):24-44 (2007)

To contribute to the organizational turn in research on participatory democracy, this paper examines the effects of organizational hierarchy on individual thinking. Power corrupts, but neither political scientists nor psychologists can really tell us how. To identify mechanisms by which it does so, the paper introduces recent advances in the field of cognitive psychology, here to suspicious political theorists. The study of cognition shows that we actively make meaning, and that we do so with a discernable neurological apparatus. The paper presents hierarchy as a social construct that 'fits' this apparatus in such a way as to assist the capture of meaning by the interests of power. This process of capture takes place beneath individual awareness. For this reason, the concern here amounts to ideology critique: specifically, using cognitive psychology to reveal the ideological propagation of hierarchy. The fact that hierarchy has hidden cognitive costs has important implications for the prospects of a more participatory democracy. Any democratization of organizational life is seen to turn on the capacity of participants to selectively use and manage hierarchy and to minimize its cognitive costs. This entails, among other things, a recovery of our own thinking from the knowledge processing requirements of power saturated hierarchic organizations. In its examination of the personal effects of power, the paper seeks to reveal psychological mechanisms by which power corrupts, and by which, inadvertently, we come to serve the interests of power in the very way we think
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DOI 10.1057/palgrave.cpt.9300276
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References found in this work BETA

Language and Mind.Noam Chomsky - 1968 - Cambridge University Press.
Power: A Radical View.Steven Lukes & Jack H. Nagel - 1976 - Political Theory 4 (2):246-249.
In Defense of Anarchism by Robert Paul Wolff. [REVIEW]Gerald Dworkin - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (18):561-567.
The Public and Its Problems.T. V. Smith - 1929 - Philosophical Review 38 (2):177.

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Citations of this work BETA

Management or Organizing? A Dialogue.Gordon Pearson & Martin Parker - 2008 - Business and Society Review 113 (1):43-61.
Why is There Hierarchy? Democracy and the Question of Organisational Form.Ricardo Blaug - 2009 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 12 (1):85-99.

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