Work organizations have long employed various management techniques in order to maximise workers’ engagement, which in itself implies that ‘alienation’ at work is common. One of the central descriptions of alienation in classic writings is the idea of not being ‘at home’ whilst at work. In this paper, however, we explore its obverse, which we term ‘disalienation’—a relationship to work based on assumptions concerning control and agency, aided by collective participatory mechanisms for identity construction and dialogical building of social relationships. We suggest that the concept and experience can be productively explored in the context of organizations which are owned and controlled by workers. Using ethnographic case studies from two Polish co-operatives, we discuss the potential characteristics of a disalienating relation to a work organization and suggest that co-operatives can provide a way for workers to be ‘at home’ whilst they are at work.
- workplace democracy