Organizational Communication Ethics: Community of Memory and Dwelling

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This chapter, No. 8, considers organizations as “dwelling places” for types of communication, and places to support a certain sense of the good.

Once again, the chapter breaks itself down into metaphors of communication ethics praxis — four this time:

  • Organizational Communication
  • Dwelling Place
  • Organizations and Institutions
  • Community of Memory Within Organizations

Organizational communication is the orchestrating of communicative practices that announces how formal and informal structures of events and persons in a given organization interrelate to accomplish a purpose or purposes.

Arnett, Ronald C.; Fritz, Janie; Bell, Leeanne M. (2008-08-04). Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference (Kindle Locations 2849-2850). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Organizations have different views on the purposes of the organizations, and the sort of communication that supports those purposes.

Those communications create the dwelling place that is the organization.The communication structures say what is good and what isn’t, what is included, and what is excluded.

People who lament organizational politics want a static setup, instead of the dialogue that allows continual negotiation and statement of the good within the organization.

Organizations have a “saying” and a “said” element. The saying is that of current activities that demonstrate the good. the said is the memories of past activities that give the current ones context.

Which brings up the contrast between organizations and institutions.

The beginning of an organizational house is the institution. The institution is the legal and publicly recognized structure that permits us to understand the identity of a given organization as an entity of a given type:

Arnett, Ronald C.; Fritz, Janie; Bell, Leeanne M. (2008-08-04). Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference (Kindle Locations 2933-2934). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Communication ethics are displayed via four key questions:

  1. What institution gives it identity?
  2. What communication practices depend upon the institution?
  3. What story of the good does the organization tell within the institution?
  4. How does the “community of memory” keep alive the identity of the organization?

Community memory is made up of the what and how of communication practices.

the notion of community of memory is central to an understanding of life situated within something other than an individual self.

Arnett, Ronald C.; Fritz, Janie; Bell, Leeanne M. (2008-08-04). Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference (Kindle Location 2965). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Memory does not dictate to the organization; memory becomes a conscience and a guide.It offers accountability to the good the organization professes, an evolving good as dialogue is made in the organization about it.

So, how do we see this in Les Miserables? Valjean builds a factory to provide prosperity to the town. As an institution its goal is product and profit. As a community of memory it carries the ideals of its founder.

Later as mayor he has to decide a case with competing goods, and we see how he justifies the one good over the other, both held in community memory.

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