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YoHo Journal Vol 4: Rotten Institutions by Dr Linda Woodhead

YoHo Journal Vol 4: Rotten Institutions by Dr Linda Woodhead


Vol 4 is entitled Rotten Institutions -  and is penned by Dr Linda Woodhead MBE. She is an F.D.Maurice Professor in Moral and Social Theology at King’s College London. 


Here is a little snippet to whet your appetite...


We often imagine institutions as stately galleons, sailing serenely across the ocean of society, steering a steady course over a long period. ‘Don’t rock the boat’ is a natural institutional instinct. We know that institutions bob up and down a bit and hit stormy waters, but we forgive them if they right themselves and resume course without capsizing.


We may also treat institutions like parents, grandparents and responsible adults. This is not surprising given that we may have been born in one, educated in others, and will be buried by another. As with parents, our instinct is to trust—because we depend on them—unless they betray that trust profoundly and repeatedly. That means that we are subject to what the psychologist Jennifer Freyd calls ‘betrayal blindness’. We overlook warning signs and loud klaxons because we don’t want to admit that there are holes below the waterline of the stately galleon, or that our parents are fallible or bad.


But to imagine institutions as parents or galleons is dangerous, because institutions, like organisations, are nothing more than an amalgam of shared cultures and values, patterned forms of practice, routinized ways of thinking and feeling, and sedimented ways of making decisions and solving conflicts. They are not things and they are not beings.


We may love them but they cannot love us back.

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