Bullying as Counter-Conduct

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


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


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