Micro-politics by hesitation: How combat soldiers work on and against an order to kill
- 1. Die Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main
In the qualitative research on organisations, micro-politics and studies of work are dealt with in separate registers including distinct cases, concepts, and phenomena. Studies in micro-politics focus on the members’ self-organizing tactics within dynamic relations of power. They seek to influence the power relations to their fraction’s advantage. Studies of work focus on members’ tricks of the trade preferably in demanding situations. Here, communities of practice develop methods and techniques to overcome recurring obstacles at work. The separation of the two microanalytics turns out to be little productive in moments when practical tasks become themselves doubtful, e.g. when order-takers (here, US-American soldiers) are persistently troubled by an order. For them, what to do next becomes methodically and tactically demanding. In the critical moments before the bombing, the soldiers hurry
to change the order micro-politically, while getting ready to execute it. Can the subordinates work at all against the military order? The order-takers follow the order on the frontstage, while making provisions against it on the backstage. This twotrack policy, while failing to prevent the order, turns out to be productive nonetheless. It allows the soldiers to account for their work as dutiful and responsible.