As yang as it gets: whistleblowers as archetypal heroes in contemporary society

Ivory, S. Hilary Anne (2015). As yang as it gets: whistleblowers as archetypal heroes in contemporary society. PhD thesis The Open University.



Whistleblowers often report that they "had no choice." Aside from a few psychoanalytic studies, most whistleblowing research takes a post-positivist correlative approach seeking to identify likely antecedents to whistleblowing. Studies ignore the meaning of what the whistleblower is resisting, consequently missing what conditions might be contributing to individuals blowing the whistle on perceived wrongdoing. Organizational scholarship has begun to use Jungian interpretation; the author hypothesizes that this irresistible impulse is due to whistleblowers being sensitive to archetypal activity in Jung's collective unconscious, specifically a newly condensed form combining aspects of the Hero, the Seer and the Artist. In this frame, whistleblowers are seen as countering the cultural repression of the light aspects of the Heraclean and the Jacobean Hero by embodying the reemergent heroic Horus archetype, the Son and Champion of the Dark Queen. Within a theoretical framework that marries the principles of Jamesian pragmatism and critical theory, the archetypological approach priorizes an ethical teleology and allows for a flexible epistemology. The author has developed a distinctive method - the mytho-poetic analysis of social experience (MPASE) - to reveal new understandings from medical whistleblower narratives and dream reports. This method draws on abductive case study selection, Jungian amplification, Social Dreaming methodology and Listening Post technique. Panel members of a Dream/Image Reflection Group free associate to excerpts from the whistleblower data, and then both sets of responses are subjected to the author's mytho-poetic amplification. Analysis highlights the importance of looking beyond organizational limits to the larger societal context in which organizations are embedded. This facilitates a recognition of the levels of misconduct that whistleblowers are resisting, and a way of comprehending the meaning of whistleblowing.

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