In this article we adopt Barad’s theory of agential realism to explore how power and performativity are simultaneously processual and ontologically entangled. We use the hyphenated term power-performativity to mobilize an exploration of how power is not an ‘outcome’ or ‘effect’ of, but an inseparable flow within, the processes of performativity through which the world is continuously becoming. This moves us beyond the traditional, anthropocentric take on the relationship between power and performativity which emphasizes human agency and linear cause-effect, toward an alternative understanding of organizational phenomena as always enacted through myriad intra-acting more-than-human actants. To empirically mobilize this approach, we explore power-performativity within online healthcare, enacted through personal online healthcare communities (POHCs). We explore multiple ‘diffraction gratings’ through which particular outcomes of online healthcare come to matter, while others are prevented from mattering. In doing so, we posit the suitability of Barad’s agential realism for further explorations of the dynamics of power and performativity in modes of organizing and organizational life and offer tools for how these may be done.
- agential realism