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We now turn to the application of power by organizations for the various reasons organizations apply power, further, from a feminist critique, the we examine the context of women as disciplined bodies and how organizational communications can be studied from that point of view. Finally, we will address the insight feminist approaches could offer as applied to organizational communications, if it were the research focus, at our selected organization for applied theoretical study.

Power and The Study of Power in Organizational Communications

Power might be best described by Michael Foucault (2009), as “an ensemble of actions that induce others,” further denoting power “as the conduct of conduct and the management of possibilities” (Lamb, 2023). Essentially, Foucault encourages us to see the power within organizational communications as interactive as it is “relational” and requires interactivity or the ability to act deliberately in response to othersactions (Lamb, 2023).

As applied, critical approaches were influenced by Georg Hegel and Max Weber, but their most “important roots” are linked to Karl Marx (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 101). Applied theory would see power through organizational communication by investigating the control of modes and means of production alongside organizational discourse (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 103).

Modes and means of production would see power within the organization and attempt to study it by understanding the economic means that “underlie the production process. (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 103). It’s how things are done. From this view, one may think that product X costs organization Y. The difference between the variables would be balanced against the employee’s wage. Since the employee has no concept of variable Y, or at least not one of meaningful value, the organization uses power to conceal the profitability of the organization from the employee. Following Marxist thought, this control mechanism would prevent employees from actualizing their value to the organization, eliminating many associated risks, using its overarching power and control resources (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 103).

Investigating control of organizational discourse would reveal evidence of how “power relationships are produced and reproduced” (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 104). This study could be considered a constitutive approach as it would reveal how organizational communication evolves the social reality of domination. In this context, the organization’s stories reveal its use of power. Familiar stories that come to mind concern those aptly referenced by our text. When the CEO of a multinational computing company endeavored to enter a restricted area without identification, he was denied access. Rightfully, this action demonstrates the acuity of security. However, it also reveals the latent underpinning of authority: Even the CEO (power) cannot enter restricted areas when he arguably controls them and sets the policies. This interaction reveals the “dominant coalition by highlighting the importance of bureaucratic rules and regulations.” The inherent hierarchy, studied from the story’s perspective, could be a focal point of interest (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 104).

Finally, while we have explored how to approach studying organizational communications through economic structures and organizational discourse, another reasonable pair of approaches could consider ideology and hegemony evidenced in the organization. Collectively, ideology and hegemony are shaped by economic structures and organizational discourse. First, ideology “refers to more than a set of attitudes … [it] structures our thoughts and controls our interpretations of reality” (Eisenberg & Goodall, 1997, p. 153 as cited in Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 105). This would be evidenced through the organizational hierarchy as the inherent nature of a hierarchy contemplates that lower elements assemble the attitudes or structures set atop the hierarchy. Power, evident from top to bottom, would be revealed.

Hegemony would approach the study from the perspective of dominance in leadership and consider the “process in which a dominant group leads another group to accept subordination as the norm” (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 105). Following the hierarchy example, those higher (dominant) would force those lower (subordinates) to accept their norms, resulting in a condition of “manufactured consent” (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 105). Here, organizational charts could be a revealing utility.

Cumulatively, organizational communications could be studied by understanding the relationships of power applied through control within the organization. Approaching that analysis through an economic or discourse lens would offer another intersection for study, and examining the organization’s ideology and evidence of hegemony would further showcase another facet. Each would attempt to understand the power and its relationship with control through application evidenced through communication within the organization.

Feminist Critique: Explaining the Notion of Disciplined Bodies

The theoretical view of women, particularly as disciplined bodies, was curated through the investigations of Angela Tretheway (1999, 2000, 2001, as cited in Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 115). The overarching theory could be best summarized as the conflict of perception within the organizational context related to gender roles and their overarching power. It has significant underpinnings to the context of power as efforts undertaken by women to discipline their inherent femininity, it seems, with a degree of mindfulness. Evidence of this notion was highlighted by Trethewey and summarized by our literature as a woman’s need to conceal femininity and its propensity to “leak out through unruly clothing, menstrual bleeding, pregnancy, or emotional displays” (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 116). This restrictive and protective mechanism serves to inhibit femineity while simultaneously projecting it. Women see the professional body as trim or fit and communicate enduring and disciplined features. Further, Trethewey highlights the paradox of self-control versus emotionality within the perceptions of the female gender when considering how women must control their emotional displays and physical interactions. From this point of view, women in the organization seem expected to conform to their gender role stereotypes while at the same time possessing traits worthy of more masculine style roles. Miller said it so well: “We still need to have that firm handshake, but do not overdo it” (Miller & Barbour, 2020, p. 116) when considering how a woman is to shake hands with another.

When contemplating how to assess best and understand Tretheway’s construct within the organization, an understanding of the overarching perception of women would be helpful. An endeavor to investigate dress codes within the organization’s operating policies might reveal evidence of the degree to which masculinity conflicts with femininity, further revealing the expectations of women in the organization. Other means may augment that notion, precisely, how the information environment communicates concerning each other. Is sexual harassment prevalent within the organization, or is the organization purposefully advancing discrimination?

The degree of conformity to or resistance to policy might reveal trends within overarching feminist movements present within the organization and facilitated by communication. An interesting point of view contemplates how this perspective could be seen as constitutive of the organization or how women share the same, seemingly oppressed, social collective.

The Feminist Perspective: Attached to Family Centered Services of Alaska

Trethewey’s perspective on women as unique, oppressed bodies within the organization would be a fascinating perspective to investigate our subject organization. A “Trethewey’s Investigation” could reveal a significant degree of insight into the organization, especially in how it sees and interacts with its feminine components through communication. The impact of this study could serve many purposes spanning legal and sociocultural divides. Communication from within the organization’s information environment could be evaluated for bias to the degree that women are seen as less capable than men unless they conform to the standards established by policy, doctrine, or ideology.

Understanding trends within FCSA concerning women’s reactions to power and control could be further and more meaningfully understood. Undercurrents of conflict that operate contrary to overarching goals could be managed. The degree to which the organization utilizes communication to facilitate the shaping of women by cultural or social norms could reveal any degrees of inequality.


Critical and feminine perspectives offer similar yet differing views of communication when studied in the organizational context. Critical perspectives evaluate the degree to which power and control are applied within the organization, and feminine perspectives seem to enhance those theories, aiming for better communication within the organization, which also has merit. Each view aims to explain elements of power and control and corresponding reactions. Understanding organizational communications from each point of view would offer contrasting but similar evidence of applied power within the organization.

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