Recognition, Reification, and Practices of Forgetting: Ethical Implications of Human Resource Management

Abstract : This article examines the ethical framing of employment in contemporary human resource management (HRM). Using Axel Honneth's theory of recognition and classical critical notions of reification, I contrast recognition and reifying stances on labor. The recognition approach embeds work in its emotive and social particu-larity, positively affirming the basic dignity of social actors. Reifying views, by contrast, exhibit a forgetfulness of recognition, removing action from its existential and social moorings, and imagining workers as bundles of discrete resources or capacities. After discussing why reification is a problem, I stress that recognition and reifi-cation embody different ethical standpoints with regards to organizational practices. Thus, I argue paradoxically that many current HRM best practices can be maintained while cultivating an attitude of recognition. If reification is a type of forgetting, cultivating a recognition attitude involves processes of ''remembering'' to foster work relations that reinforce employee dignity.
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Gazi Islam. Recognition, Reification, and Practices of Forgetting: Ethical Implications of Human Resource Management. Journal of Business Ethics, Springer Verlag, 2012, ⟨10.1007/s10551-012-1433-0⟩. ⟨hal-01232667⟩

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