Doing compassion or doing discipline? Power relations and the Magdalene Laundries

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Political Power, 2014, 7 (2), pp. 253 - 274
Issue Date:
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We address the Magdalene Laundries. On the one hand this institution was constituted as a compassionate response to managing troubled young women; on the other hand it was seen as a disciplinary apparatus imposing total institutional life on its inmates. The antinomy of views about the institution is evident in the analysis we make of 116 comments by 66 commenters on an online newspaper article about the Magdalene Laundries. We analyse these comments in the context of broader concerns about contemporary approaches to the topic of organizational compassion. We argue that organizational compassion is a complex social process embedded within power relations that can be disciplinary in nature and create ambivalent rather than wholly positive outcomes. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.
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