Secret Societies: Intimations of Organization

Martin Parker*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

21 Citations (Scopus)


This paper uses the secret society to pose questions about the politics, epistemology and ontology of organizing. Against assumptions of transparency, or the possibility of hermeneutic understanding, I suggest that much organizing is actually invisible and opaque. The paper begins with a consideration of the characteristics of historical and contemporary organizational conspiracies, and then moves on to elaborate what sort of ‘facts’ need to be claimed about a secret society to bring it into existence. After a section on the politics of contemporary organizational conspiracies, the paper concludes with some speculations on what the example of the secret society can tell us about the paranoia required by contemporary organizational researchers, as well as the ontology of organizations. After all, we have still never seen an organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-113
Number of pages15
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number1
Early online date12 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • clandestine organizations
  • conspiracy
  • secrecy
  • secret societies
  • Simmel


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