Doing compassion or doing discipline? Power relations and the Magdalene Laundries

A. V. Simpson, Stewart Clegg, M. P. Lopes, Miguel Pina e Cunha, A. Rego, T. Pitsis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


We address the Magdalene Laundries. On the one hand this institution was constituted as a compassionate response to managing troubled young women; on the other hand it was seen as a disciplinary apparatus imposing total institutional life on its inmates. The antinomy of views about the institution is evident in the analysis we make of 116 comments by 66 commenters on an online newspaper article about the Magdalene Laundries. We analyse these comments in the context of broader concerns about contemporary approaches to the topic of organizational compassion. We argue that organizational compassion is a complex social process embedded within power relations that can be disciplinary in nature and create ambivalent rather than wholly positive outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-274
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Political Power
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


  • compassion
  • Magdalene Laundries
  • organization studies
  • power


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