Document Type

Journal Article


University of Queensland


Faculty of Regional and Professional Studies


School of Social Work (RPS)/ECU South West Research Centre




This article was originally published as: Palmer, M. J., & Ross, D. (2014). Tracing the maddening effects of abuses of authority: Rationalities gone violent in mental health services and universities. Social Alternatives, 33(3), 28-36. Original article available here


Organisations such as mental health systems and universities can be places where violence is part of the business as usual and hence taken-for-granted functionality of the workplaces. The paper challenges dominant perceptions of who is mad and what is dangerous to unsettle the largely unquestioned legitimacy of indirect and mainly, but not always, non-coercive forms of organisational power. To enable this analysis the research and language of domestic violence is presented to help anchor the nature of organisational violence so that it doesn’t get ignored or deferred as non-problematic, as something that just happens somehow separate from peoples’ actions or non-actions. The discursive and material nature of violence in our human organisations can be addressed through tracing the maddening effects it can have on people and by addressing issues of harm, loss and injustice through dialogue, resistance and restorative justice work.

Access Rights

not open access