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Stevenson, S. (2012). Race and Gender Dynamics as an Organisational Defence against Anxiety within a Specialist Multi-Disciplinary Child and Family Assessment Service. Organ. Soc. Dyn., 12(2):131-144.

(2012). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 12(2):131-144


Race and Gender Dynamics as an Organisational Defence against Anxiety within a Specialist Multi-Disciplinary Child and Family Assessment Service

Stuart Stevenson

The article discusses the complex dynamics of difference operating within the context of a new service that had been set up by a group of black child protection experts with a specialism in working with black children and families who had been brought before the courts due to incidents of child abuse and neglect. Although expanding at an impressive rate the organisation was seriously struggling to understand the graveness of the situation of it not having established an appropriate business infrastructure, which was essential in order for it to survive.

The organisation was caught up in a complex and highly defended social defence system/psychic retreat that struggled to take in appropriate inputs which was jeopardising its future. The inputs of outsiders had become symbolically equated with conquest and colonisation. The organisation struggled to recognise necessary differences and was overly attached to notions of sameness that extended not only to race and gender but also in terms of roles within the organisation and the inputs of consultants.

The threat of resignation by the only male director brought the organisation into crisis that enabled it to allow input, thereby installing a symbolic law of the father that enabled sufficient ability to symbolise and movement out of a basic assumption paranoid-schizoid culture that was less dominated by symbolic equations into a more mature, depressive work group that was able to rise to Oedipal demands and, therefore, more able to appreciate difference, accountability and dependency.

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