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W(h)ither the Peasantry in the 21st century?

A seminar by Prof Gibson Burrell; Leicester School of Business/Manchester Business School Visiting Scholar, UCD College of Business

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Feb 21, 2017
from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM


Room Q007 Lochlann Quinn Business School, University College Dublin, Belfield

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The ‘peasantry’ appear to be absent in much of western social science and humanities. In Business and Management Studies for example where the focus is upon industrial and commercial life within metropolitan areas this is very marked indeed. Their rural life style, location in the primary sector of the ‘feudal’ economy, commitment to traditional patterns of belief and authority especially witchcraft, particular conceptions of time and space, illiteracy, oral histories, a focus often upon bare survival, commitment to blat and guanxi forms of relationships and so on all mark them as different from industrial workers. The use of many derogatory terms for ‘the peasant’ across many nations reflects their low status in urban, metropolitan, science-based cultures. They are soiled. Yet, the peasantry remain key parts of the world’s social system amounting to billions of human beings in the 21st century. They are a present absence, the ghost at the table, largely invisible except caught in a mirror out of the corner of our eye within Schools of Social Science and particularly Schools of Management. The peasantry are all around us, spatially and temporally. They are even inside our ‘cosmopolitan’ mindsets. They are present pasts within a global telos driven by Darwinian evolutionism. Consequent to a widespread acceptance of Evolutionism on both the Left and the Right there has been a besmirchment of the peasantry with a concurrent attempt to remove them from the economy altogether. The same techniques of de-peasantrization originally encouraged by The Economist in Victorian Britain are now being employed in Sri Lanka, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and so on. The paper will ask how much the peasantry are part of 21st century socio-economic life and how much attention the Academy should pay to their lives.

Prof Gibson Burrell is visiting UCD College of Business as Visiting Scholar until March 3rd. Prof Burrell has worked primarily in the area of ‘Organization Theory’ (OT) and is well known for, in particular, co-authoring the seminal Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis with Gareth Morgan, as well as a series of articles with Bob Cooper in the journal ‘Organization Studies’. In 2015 he was awarded a prize by the American Academy of Management for lifetime contribution to OT and a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship for 2015-6. He was Founding Editor of the journal ‘Organization’ and he is currently section Editor for the ‘Journal of Business Ethics’.

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