Research Repository

Public Servant identity at work in Chilean State bureaucracy: a Lacanian interpretation

Valenzuela, Francisco (2016) Public Servant identity at work in Chilean State bureaucracy: a Lacanian interpretation. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

PhD Thesis FV - DEFINITIVE v2.pdf

Download (1MB) | Preview


This thesis inquires over the process through which public servants construct an identity during the organisation of bureaucratic work. Using a qualitative approach, this process is observed empirically in the case of the Chilean State, where the implementation of neoliberal policies is commanded by policy-makers. In particular, drawing from a Lacanian theoretical framework, this study analyses the inconsistent fashion in which identification unfolds discursively. On the one hand, public servant subjectivity is viewed as articulating and enacting cohesive self-meanings during the conscious coordination with bureaucratic objects. On the other hand, however, the experience of public servants during the articulation of their identity is seen as driven unconsciously towards achieving excessive amounts of embodied, affective satisfaction or what Lacan calls jouissance. Overall, from this standpoint, the construction of identity within the bureaucratic realm is appreciated as a paradoxical and un-determined project, featuring interrupted yet sustained narrations of self and/or distorted yet committed narratives on workplace reality. The main finding of this study is that public servants develop a strong affective attachment to bureaucratic labour while attributing contradictory and inconsistent meanings to their own professional self and to the experience of ‘translating’ policy into bureaucratic work. In short, public servants enjoy their commitment to policy-commanded-bureaucracy, even though and precisely because they cannot articulate why consistently. In some instances experience is narrated as promising in its effectivity yet fragile and hindered, while in others it narrated as self-developing yet at the same time wearing and insufficiently effective. The main contribution of this study is to introduce a gendered, critical understanding of the ethos and vocation sustaining subjectivation and work within public sector bureaucracy, one that needs but at the same time subverts assumptions about the primacy of rational reflexivity in subjective self-experience and about the hegemonization of State administration by neoliberal, entrepreneurial discourses or ‘governmentalities’.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD58.7 Organizational behavior, change and effectiveness. Corporate culture
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
Depositing User: Francisco Valenzuela Diaz
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2016 13:36
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2016 13:36

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item