Stanley Deetz developed the critical theory of communication to explore ways of ensuring the health of organizations while increasing diverse human interests’ representation. This was achieved first by indicating that corporations have become not only economic but also political institutions. The theory points out various ways through which decision-making can be distorted by a corporation’s communication practices and outlines how communication reforms can make workplaces more democratic and productive (Mayfield et al., 2020). Deetz utilizes strategy, involvement, participation, and consent to present the theory. This paper evaluates how these concepts have been incorporated in the film ROGER AND ME.
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The corporate colonization concept reflects that when corporations or organizations in our societies become the central power source, individuals are likely to derive both their values as well as identity from the corporations. The concept evaluates various factors in terms of communication practices and systems of an organization. It entails theories and practices including organizational resistance, disciplinary power, concretive control, organizational identity, and hegemony. The concept also describes the cooperation of these theories and how the cooperation creates organizations that become dominating institutions for value systems and the identity of individuals. Organizational identity is a crucial aspect of corporate colonization since it is meant for the corporate system’s organizational control as well as obedience (Malengo 2016).
This is why mechanisms of organizational identity are legitimate processes that are evidence of domination than agreement and free choice. This concept is indicated throughout the film since the chairman of the company derives all the power from the position held in the company. For instance, one needs an appointment to access the floor of the chairman’s office. Secondly, not even the secretary can call straight to the chairman’s office, illustrating the principle of corporate colonization.
The theory reflects that communication is information transfer that perpetuates everyday life’s managerialism as well as corporate colonization. Managerialism refers to a systematic logic, ideology, and routine practices that make managers have control as the only thing in their minds. However, while some employees may choose to conform to their bosses’ ways, some may reform against their bosses’ ways. It is also important to notice that the employees who know about this reality choose to continue with the order of things because most of them lack a choice (Mayfield et al., 2020).
In the film ROGER AND ME, managerialism has been depicted when the chairman of General Motors decides that the company would close some of its branches across the United States. This action would result in the laying off of several workers without any clear path of compensating the workers for them to go on with their lives.
Consent is a model’s aspect of managerial control whereby unaware, a person participates in their exploitation. This is experienced whenever workers fail to get what they deserve even after giving their loyalty. Consent is engineered by systematically distorted communication because of its restrictions on free expression or discussion (Malengo 2016). It emerges when managers decide that things appear what they are not, further strengthening power relationships. Consent can best be illustrated when there is a prohibition for workers to have discussions of any nature regarding issues like pay difference controversies and gender-based job classification, among others.
Therefore, in the communication model, workers consent to the managerial control mentality unconsciously, and this may become severe if it is overlooked. This concept has been illustrated in the film when humans are used as status in a party graced by the company’s top officials. Further, it is illustrated when there is a view by one of the fired employees that most union officials are friends with the company management, and when the attendant at Detroit Athletic Club refuses to provide information about the chairman because it is a private building.
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The concept of discursive closure, as developed by Deetz, involves various unobtrusive strategies that a proponent of a given discourse may employ in surpassing a potential conflict to prevent the free expression of alternative views. According to Deetz, these strategies can hardly be noticed and include topical avoidance, disqualification, neutralization, experience subjectification, pacification, naturalization, legitimation, among others.
The ability to identify these strategies provides a crucial step in the management of an imposed communication challenge (Mayfield et al., 2020). This is illustrated in the movie when the company’s spokesperson chooses to avoid any conflict with the chairman. The spokesman feels that what the chairman is doing is wrong but to avoid the emergence of a conflict between them, still refers to the chairman as a warm man, which amounts to discursive closure. The governor’s refusal to the opinion of a sit-down strike also amounts to discursive closure. Another instance of discursive closure is illustrated when Miss Michigan refuses to blame the company for the lay-off because of the upcoming Miss America competitions, which she eventually wins.
Organization communication provides that organizations are dominating locations with both power and control based on unequal power distribution. The critical theory of communication developed by Stanley Deetz has presented various concepts that have formed the basis of this paper’s discussion, as the concept of discursive closure. The paper has also highlighted examples of these concepts from the film ROGER AND ME.
Malengo, C. R. (2016). Examining How Supervisor/Employee Communication Affects Employee Intentions to Leave an Organization (Doctoral dissertation, Gonzaga University).
Mayfield, M., Mayfield, J., & Walker, R. (2020). Reasons and Representations. In Fundamental Theories of Business Communication (pp. 171-186). Palgrave Macmillan.
Moore M. (Director). (1989). Roger & Me [Film]. A dog eat dog Productions.