This theory was a bit difficult to apply to my life; I’ve never worked for a corporation (and I’ve made it somewhat of a goal never to either. But perhaps this is because I’ve come to view corporations as Deetz has, and also view them as needing change.)
My aunt has worked for AT&T most of her working life (she’s 45). She moved rather high up the ladder and had a pretty good, high-ranking job. She was laid off a couple of months ago. As I understand it, AT&T has been gradually downsizing for awhile now. For over a year, she has had no job security; she would go into work every day not knowing if this was to be the day she would “find out” that her job was no longer essential. In the meantime, much younger, inexperienced people have been promoted to new positions within her department, right before her very eyes. This just seems like a medieval king, or an evil dictatorship to me—not knowing whether the king is going to summon you in and call for your head on a platter. But you know he’s a hungry king, so your end is probably coming pretty soon. How does one plan one’s life with outlooks like that? I know it’s made my aunt a less happy person. (Although she’s more happy now that she has the prospect of teaching at a university instead. It’s more her style anyway.)
So, how do these authoritarian companies command such loyalty? Corporate colonization of everyday life. They offer goodies. My aunt obviously got good telephone rates, as well as all the latest technologies AT&T had to offer. My grandpa worked for them all his life and has a nice pension or retirement account (whichever) now. I’m sure my aunt was looking forward to that (but those were the good old days). Everything having to do with phones in my life has always been AT&T, and since my uncle works for Sony, the same is the case—anything technological or mechanical, if Sony makes it, we have a Sony. It went without saying in my family.
This is not the case anymore, now that my family’s eyes have been opened to what these corporations are capable of doing with one fell swoop. Maybe this disillusionment will be the case with greater society eventually, if corporate atrocities keep happening.
After the Deetz chapter I was quite surprised to witness several aspects of his theory enacted during the dinner conversation a few moments later. We were talking about the Women's Chorale spring banquet and one girl has had her eye on a particular guy for the past month. We were curious if she'd invited him yet. "No," she said. "I'm not sure it's worth $25. That's a lot of money to spend on a date who might not even be interested in me." My roommate offered some encouragement. "Oh, come on," she said. "It's definitely a worthy investment. It could lead to something more." Without even thinking twice about their choice of words, my friends were expanding the powerful influence of corporate thinking in everyday conversation. This business of talking in economic terms reinforces the idea that corporations like GM not only produce cars, but meanings in people as well. In simply discussing an upcoming dating situation, my friends had unknowingly adopted the lingo of big business, demonstrating the validity of Deetz' communication model. It seems that language is the medium through which reality is produced, and therefore, creating the right impression makes a big difference. In the case of the Chorale banquet, perhaps the persuasive business lingo of the dinner conversation will convince my friend to "invest" in the $25 for an enjoyable evening (and maybe even a future romantic relationship).
Giving a voice to all that are affected by an action/decision is a frightening idea. So frightening in fact that Bon Apetit (our food service) doesn't do it. "'Aaah. . . ' they say. But you do have a voice as students! There is the suggestion box and a survey each semester!" That, according to Deetz, is not a voice. I am allergic to all milk products and I don't know the ingredients of the food. I've put my comments in via their mode of communication with no observable results. I have involvement in the process, but no participation. The management still holds all the power. A real voice would be nice.
When I was growing up, from about as early as I can remember into my high school years, my father worked for a company in the oilfield. He would be gone for weeks at a time, sometimes even a month. I know that deep down he hated working those hours, but it was his job and he needed to provide economic means for our family. I remember my dad getting phone calls at dinnertime and being forced to go back to work until very early in the morning. He did not complain, because he thought he was meeting the need of being a family provider. This is illustrated in Stan Deetz's theory as "consent". Consent, in the corporate setting, involves accomplishing the interests of others in a "faulty attempt to fulfill one's own interests". My father thought he was fulfilling his interests by providing, but later he discovered that there was more he wished to accomplish as a family man than just moneymaking.