Constructing paper dolls: The discourse of personality testing in organizational practice

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38 Scopus citations


Recent developments in managerial theory and practice practically ensure the continued widespread use of personality testing (Miller & Rose, 1990). In this article I argue why communication theorists ought to attend to the ontology of personhood implied in the discourse of personality exams and the biopolitics associated with the exams, implementation in organizational life. I specifically focus on how the exams function as a form of government by providing authorities with a technique for engineering the workplace and for disciplining unruly employees. I also address how personality exams function as a subjectifying technology by providing individuals with a formalized discourse for "self-knowledge." I conclude by discussing the tensions that follow from the exams' simultaneous invocation of autonomous individualism and race-, class-, and gender-based articulations of the normal individual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-218
Number of pages30
JournalCommunication Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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