ABSTRACT

Throughout the theoretical discussion contemporary individualisation has been described as the individualised negotiation of the divide between hyperdifferentiated systems and hypertrophied lifeworlds. The negotiation process is not only shifted on to individuals, but also leaves it up to them to deal with a fundamental ambiguity between an individual gain of autonomy and an increased risk of instrumentalisation. On an institutional and organisational level, marketisation and corporatisation in particular seem to turn the negotiating capacities into an organising principle for systemic coordination. The individual at the workplace seems to be at the centre of a tug-of-war between systemic and normative processes, between systemic coordination and normative negotiation. This struggle within the individual fundamentally defines the ambiguities that the concept of ‘organised individualisation’ captures. Managers foster and facilitate individualisation at work by creating the subtle expectation of individual responsibility for the organisation without control over its normative underpinnings. And that is where ‘individualisation’ is at work.