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(2018). Part Two—Menzies Meets Douglas and a Case Study. Organ. Soc. Dyn., 18(2):247-272.

(2018). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 18(2):247-272

Part Two—Menzies Meets Douglas and a Case Study

Part One explored several concepts that can build the sociological foundations of Menzies' social defence theory (SDT). Its purpose is to improve the prospects of organisational change. It included Durkheim's sociology, Freud's revised theory of anxiety, systemic self-organisation and feedback loops, and the distinction between social forms and content. In this article, Mary Douglas' (1986) institutional theory of culture, is employed alongside Menzies to reconceptualise social defences as informal institutions displaying distinct social forms, that generate feedback loops, or consequences for individuals and the organisation. Trist's (1950) culture as a “mediating” psycho-social “concept” brings Menzies and Douglas into dialogue. This suggests that both macro-sociological forms and micro-psychological insight into behaviour are needed. A four-year consultancy with a medium-sized multinational manufacturing company where social defences appeared but traditional Tavistock style action research interventions failed is presented as a case study. This forced a rethinking of consultant task and intervention, and research diagnosis.

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