Work as God’s playtime?

The theology of organizational play

Authored by: Bent Meier Sørensen , Sverre Spoelstra

The Routledge Companion to Ethics, Politics and Organizations

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  June  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415821261
eBook ISBN: 9780203566848
Adobe ISBN: 9781136746246


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It is an objective fact that each and every one of us has clear and painful childhood memories of play as something that was far from always ‘good’ and ‘fun’. Often it would be a horror: the selection for the teams, the hide and seek, the bow and arrow, the clown. In the cosmos opened by play one became subjected to forces way beyond one’s control and experienced aspects of one’s character or even ethos that were, at least, ambiguous. However, these objective, historical realities notwithstanding, the recent business literature has cast play in a significantly more benign light: play is the ideal model of the post-industrial economy. One reason why the rest of the world should envy the creative class, at least prior to the financial crisis, is that it doesn’t work at work, it plays. It is more surprising, perhaps, to see the long row of thoughtful philosophical explorations of play (Adorno, Gadamer, Huizinga, Caillois and more), as well as the theological analyses (Guardini, Ratzinger, Serres, Agamben and more), also primarily focusing on the liberating, creative and non-alienating nature of play. Indeed, both within philosophy and theology, play is seen as having redemptive qualities: it shows a glimpse of a higher sphere. Playing is ethical.

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