Bullying as Counter-Conduct

  • Mille Mortensen
  • Erik Mygind Du Plessis
Keywords: Bullying, humor, power, agonism, struggle, heath care sector.


Bullying as Counter-ConductThis paper investigates a systematic and omnipresent humorous teasingpractice among doctors and nurses at Rigshospitalet, which is defined as aform of bullying. Drawing on Michel Foucault's conceptualizations of power,counter-power and agonism, it is shown how this humorous and offensivebanter emerges in the intersection between a medical ideal of infallibility anda series of strict formal management systems. It thus functions as a way forhealth personnel to ventilate their frustrations about fallible employees andunfair working conditions in ‘forbidden’, anti-authoritarian ways. We furtherargue that the bullying practice can be understood as ‘functional’ in the sensethat it regulates a complex agonistic dynamic between the formal managementof hospital work and a widespread medical subjectivity, where errorsand incompetence are considered illegitimate, taboo and shameful.Keywords: bullying, humor, power, agonism, struggle, heath care sector.


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