Extending Critical Pedagogies: Attending to Economic Communication and Inspiring Critical Engagement

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Twenty-first-century capitalism has been characterized by chaos and rapid change, including global consolidation of ownership, financialization, economic crises, and eco-system collapse. Slow economic growth (outside of finance) coupled with increased market pressure have motivated continuous corporate re-organization involving outsourcing, contract employment, part-time labor, and similar cost-reduction practices. Consequently, workers in Western economies have fewer economic opportunities and American economic pessimism deepens (O’Connor, 2014) as too many workers and university graduates face temporary and/or part-time low-wage service jobs. As such, if the ways we teach organizational communication are to become more influential, the content and methods of our teaching must be expanded to offer meaningful critique of economic discourses influencing the constitution of organizations while providing useful ways to critically engage the complexities of contemporary organizational life. Although critical organizational communication research has addressed many workplace changes shaped by characteristics of late U.S. capitalism, the discipline has been less attentive to corporate communication and communication about corporations extending beyond employer–employee interactions. Without this guiding research, organizational communication education has been less inclined to focus on economic communication constituting the political systems that shape organizational structures, operations, and employee–employer relations.