Critical theory in use: organizing the Frankfurt School

Robert Cluley, Martin Parker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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The Frankfurt School was an interdisciplinary grouping of left-wing thinkers whose contributions to the social sciences and humanities made them one of the most influential groups of scholars from the last century. Their work has inspired decades of critical organizational research. Yet, across this body of thought, few organization theorists have considered the Frankfurt School as an organization. This article argues that we cannot apply Frankfurt School theories to organizations unless we understand how the School managed its own activities. Reading the School’s texts and examining its working practices through historical documents, we show that Frankfurt School thinkers did not ignore everyday organizational tasks, nor did they grudgingly accept them as a practical necessity. Rather, they embraced them as components of a dialectical theory of organizing and society – which we term critical theory-in-use. Defining what it means to be a critical scholar today is, we conclude, not just a matter of reading Frankfurt School theory but also understanding how this research institute endured for so long and had such a significant influence.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalHuman Relations
Early online date21 Jun 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jun 2022

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© The Author(s) 2022.


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