Monday, October 29, 2018

Workplace bullying - power, hypocrisy and the presentation of self

What happens when you see a person in serious trouble whom you have harassed for quite long. Kaleidoscope wishes to talk about those uncomfortable moments in workplace where you see the other person being harassed, bullied and ragged because of some  supposed perceived notion of right and wrong. What if you find the person in deep trouble and when you reach there you find the entire crowd that harassed or supported the harassment  already making their presence felt? 

What appears to be a mere representation of hypocrisy is actually an interesting nature of human beings - we can call as the art of pretension.  

What makes art of pretension so ubiquitous in our everyday life?

A. The power nexus and oligopoly 

Yes, it is indeed true that kaleidoscope inhabits a world full of hierarchy and he has to abide by certain unjust informal rules. The world of bureaucracy is never a world of equality, bureaucracy divides and integrates by in so far as it functions as integrated whole. Such divisions are primarily based on unequal distribution of authority and often empowers persons of authority to undermine the  rules. Hence, in an inequal institutional environment people fine it logical to align long the power centers. Often such nexus remains unchallenged and most of the people finds a comfortable fit somewhere within that. 

Within such a situation participating or passively supporting the continuous harassment  often is a strategy to maintain the status quo. For a basic human nature is to fear the change and a constant anxiety of "what if" the situation becomes worse than this? Or what if I become a target?  Hence, the status quo propagates such issues or violence, sometimes a good number of people become part of it unknowingly. 

B. The strategic silence and situational voices

What about the person who gets bullied over and over again? First of all, there are two kinds of persons: a) who protests without articulation often resulting in even more instances of bullying, and b) those who remain silent and hence whenever they speak up no one pays any attention and the situation remains largely the same. These two are never strategic responses but are instinctive responses. Kaleidoscope like many others seems to find such situation every now and then. 

C. People trying to do things differently

It is often seen that the first categories of people having been harassed do not look for a solution of the problem. It is not that they do not suffer! They usually expresses their complains at the backyard but refuse to do the same on face. It results in a precarious situation for the person who attempt to articulate for them. The problem becomes manifold when the category "b" people keep on nagging for their harassment to those who attempts such articulations. It happens because of the same old inclination towards maintaining the status quo.
For category "a", harassment increases often with increasing number of people getting involved in the process and those who wishes to stop often find themselves playing the role of a moral police.

Presentation of selves

Kaleidoscope wishes to bring the good old Goffman here before he concludes this messy text. Yes, kaleidoscope finds a juxtaposed nature of role playing, role assuming, hypocrisy, ideal types and everyday practices. Now think about the example that he mentioned in the beginning of the text. The one which speaks of a situation where people who harassed a coworkers pretends to best friend to the colleague once s/he is in trouble! It can be seen a juxtaposed situation of morality, notions of right and wrong, interface with the power packed oligopoly (as discussed in point A). 

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