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Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism

30:th SCOS in Barcelona calling

The 2012 conference will take place in Barcelona, 11 – 14 July, on the theme:
Organizing Through Displacement, Travel and Movement: Transience, Transitions and Transformations.
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Michel de Certeau draws attention to the literal relationship between metaphor and movement by pointing out that in modern Athens the vehicles of mass transportation are called metaphorai. ‘To go to work or come home’, says de Certeau, ‘one takes a “metaphor” – a bus or a train’ (de Certeau [1984] 2001, 88). Is it possible to imagine the social world without simultaneously imagining movement? Not only are mobility, movement and travel inexorable features of the social they are, arguably, also constitutive of self. Whether we move physically from office to classroom, from living room to kitchen, from one continent to another, or – through acts of imagination – travel to alternative social worlds, organizations or futures, ‘we all journey, and from our journeying, define ourselves’ (Roberson 2001, xi).
Despite the fact that in our intellectual pursuits social scientists and scholars of organization are used to travelling with our bodies and minds, it is something of a paradox that, more often than not, explanations of organizing and the social appear fixed and static rather than reticular, mobile, dynamic. We live, imagine and reflect on movement and travel, but we often narrate by connecting a series of fixed points, thereby stabilizing things and relations that are intrinsically in a state of flux and flow. Process philosophy (from Heraclitus to Whitehead and Deleuze) may have established an ineluctable ontology of transience and instability. This philosophy has recently been taken up with vigour by certain proponents in the organization studies field who insist that our epistemology, methodology and ethics reflect, and reflexively enact, an underlying process ontology (Chia 1998a, 1998b, 1999; Chia & Holt 2009; Cooper 2005, 2006). Nonetheless, despite these important developments in OS, mainstream western scientific epistemologies and methodologies persist in attempts to delineate and fix reality. Within social science our questions (to ‘research subjects’, ourselves and colleagues) often invite static answers: where are you from?; are you male or female?; how old are you?; how long have you had this job?; where do you feel most at home?; what is my epistemology?; are you a positivist, constructivist, interpretativist, postmodernist, etc., etc.? Offering one possible line of flight from such fixity, Rosi Braidotti (1994) suggests acknowledging nomadism as an existential condition. Could networks be considered more supple than systems, because the elements of a system all depend on one another and form a whole, whereas the actors in a network are mobile, independent, autonomous? We are beginning to learn how to move with actors (Latour 2005) – to follow flows and apprehend reticular processes and assemblages that emerge. Actors/actants enter into relations with one another while also being separable, thus constituting a mobile, liquid network. One challenge, then, is to construct social scientific narratives of movement within movement.
The nomadism and mobility we would like to explore in this conference is not exclusively concerned with displacement in space. What intrigues us also is the kind of nomadism that could inspire stories, represents alternative explanations of the ‘status quo’, and which do not recreate an antagonism between settling and moving. The point of such an enquiry would be to explain the transition – the change during the change – the displacement.
Papers are invited which connect with questions of organizing and movement, mobility, transition, transformation, travelling and nomadism. Some possible lines of flight would include:
• What we think or do when we move
• Who we become when we move (identities)
• Simultaneity of leaving and being at home
• Entering and leaving organizations
• Visions and practices of migrants/nomads
• The gendering of transition and displacement
• Projections: travelling into the future
• Remembering: travelling into the past
• Nomadic theories of organizing
• Travelling and nomadic organizations: trans-cultural aspects
• The perpetually displaced global manager
• Leaving home
• Changes of mind – changes of heart
• Exiles from organizations
• Narrating organizations on the move
• Translating, transporting, transferring organization
• Traversing organizational cultures
• Relocating and re-understanding
• Travel, displacement and alienation
This list is intended to be indicative only. Innovative interpretations of the conference theme are encouraged. With its long tradition of inter-disciplinary membership, SCOS invites papers that draw insights and approaches from across a range of social sciences and humanities. In addition to scholars working in management and organization studies we welcome contributions from anthropology, sociology, philosophy, politics, art history, communication, film, gender and cultural studies. Contributions can be theoretical, empirical or methodological, but should address their subject matter in a critical and rigorous fashion.

Open stream
An open stream will facilitate presentations of recent developments in research on organizational culture and symbolism that do not connect directly to the conference theme. Papers are therefore invited on any aspect of theory, methodology, fieldwork or practice that may be of interest to the SCOS community. If submitting to the open stream, please indicate this clearly on your abstract.

Workshops
We also welcome suggestions for workshops, performances or events. Outlines of proposed workshops should be no more than 500 words and should clearly indicate the resources needed, the number of participants, the time required, the approach to be taken and the session’s objectives.

Abstracts
Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted as e-mail attachments (all common formats accepted) by 15th December 2011 to hugo.gaggiotti@uwe.ac.uk.

PLEASE NOTE: The deadline for abstract submission has been extended to February 15, 2012.

Venue
EAE Business School

SCOS Membership
Have you joined SCOS yet? Join online (its free) at www.scos.org

Point of contact for abstracts and venue details: Hugo Gaggiotti (hugo.gaggiotti@uwe.ac.uk)

References
Braidotti, R. (1994). Nomadic Subjects: embodiment and sexual difference in contemporary feminist theory. New York: Columbia University Press.
Chia, R. (ed.)(1998a). Organized Worlds: Explorations in Technology and Organization with Robert Cooper. London: Routledge.
Chia R. (ed.) (1998b). In the Realm of Organization: Essays for Robert Cooper. London: Routledge.
Chia, R. (1999). ‘A “rhizomic” model of organizational change and transformation – perspectives from a metaphysics of change’. British Journal of Management, 10, 209-227.
Chia, R. & Holt, R. (2009). Strategy Without Design: The Silent Efficacy of Indirect Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cooper, R. (2005). ‘Relationality’. Organization Studies, 26(11), 1689-1710.
Cooper, R. (2006). ‘Making present: autopoiesis as human production’. Organization, 13(1), 59-81.
De Certeau, M. (2001) [1984]. ‘Spatial stories’, in Roberson, S. (2001). Defining Travel: Diverse Visions. Oxford, Mississippi: University of Mississippi Press, p. 88-104.
Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Roberson, S. (2001). Defining Travel: Diverse Visions. Oxford, Mississippi: University of Mississippi Press.