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Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism

SCOS Update: October, part II

For this second half of October, there are another four items:
1) Call for papers: Special issue of Culture and Organization 2013, Volume 19, issue 5 – Recovery and organization.
2) Call for Abstracts: 7th international interdisciplinary conference 27th - 29th June, 2012, at Keele University, UK – Eco-feminism, sustainability and organization
3) From Lucy to Language to a Culture of Enterprise and Innovation: Exhibition and seminars celebrating the Festival of Social Science, in The Chapel, Foresight Centre, University of Liverpool, October 31st – November 3rd.
4) Call for papers: Special issue of International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion – Sensually Exploring Culture And Affect At Work
Item 1:
Call for papers: Recovery and organization
Special issue of Culture and Organization, Volume 19, issue 5, 2013

Following the success of the 29th SCOS conference on the theme of ‘Recovery’, we are inviting contributions for a special issue of Culture and Organization that explore the ways in which the world is living on and living through the impact, persistence and aftershocks of the recent economic crisis. What this recovery might look like, and how we might experience it, naturally depends on perspective. The radical left we assume may articulate recovery as an ongoing legitimation crisis, in which recovery involves a global ‘waking’ up to the inequities and environmental degradation which capitalism generates. Moving much further right on the political spectrum, those in the neo-liberal Hayekian camp will presumably construct recovery as a swift return to free market economics without the ‘unnecessary’ intervention of an ‘always clumsy’ government of whatever kind. And of course there will be innumerable way stations in between, and myriad possible recoveries.

Recovery then is an evocative and often circuitous concept which we can approach from multiple vantage points. There is, for example, the possibility of exploring recovery as a process of change leading to improved health and well-being. As such recovery can be framed as a process of healing and transformation for the better, at the level of the individual, the organization and/ or the national and international economies. This also necessitates conceptualizing malaise or decline (which itself can be done in myriad ways) and of what might constitute the converse. Then there is the question here of whether recovery should be seen as a process – perhaps a never-ending one - or as the end state of wellness. But recovery might equally be about (re-)discovery of a real or imagined (or both/ and) organizational/ national/ international time and place. And in any case what exactly is being re(dis)covered here? Considering questions of collective and individual memory requires us to reflect on the inevitably reconstructionist qualities of remembering and nostalgia, as well as the dangers of forgetting what has gone before. Recovering could therefore be interpreted as individual or collective concealment, obfuscation, mystification or revisionism – or, on the other hand, as revelation and unveiling. To recover can also signify to get something back, to have it returned, to reclaim it as the ‘rightful’ owner or to be compensated for its loss. Still further, we can see recovery as the excavation of what lies beneath and is not immediately accessible – as in the extraction of natural substances such as oil, and the enormous environmental controversies surrounding such activities which in their turn link to the ongoing debates around carbon trading and ‘carbon democracies’. And recovery can additionally signify reconstituting useful substances from refuse or waste.

In all of these approaches to framing recovery – which are by no means exhaustive – it is experienced by individuals, organizations and other collectives at various meso and macro levels. And such dualisms might themselves be in crisis in any possible recovery. Recovery also implies a movement from past through present to future, which might be supported, resisted, subverted, imagined, re-imagined and unimagined.

As such, possible themes of recovery as it intersects with organization include, but are absolutely not limited to:
• Rediscovery of frames of the past, present and future at work
• Repair, regeneration and renewal in organizations and beyond
• Memory, nostalgia and forgetting in organizations and elsewhere
• Concealment, deceit, complicity, manipulation and recidivism in organizations and elsewhere
• The limits of recovery and the failure to recover: organizational deterioration, loss, death
• Signs and signifiers of recovery in organizations and beyond
• Body, mind, soul and well-being at work
• Recovery as an organizational/ economic imaginary or utopia
• Redemption, reparation and recuperation: from pre- to post-recovery in organizations and beyond
• Organizational spaces, places and times of recovery
• Ecologies of recovery and work systems as ecologies of healing
• Relationships of organizational and/ or economic recovery
• The East and West, or North and South, of organizational/ national/ transnational recovery
• Organizational heroes and heroics, healing and salvation – and their opposites
• Resistance to recovery in organizations and beyond
• What can be recovered? Organizational reclamations and compensations

In short, we welcome papers from any disciplinary, paradigmatic or methodological perspective as long as they directly address the theme of recovery and its relationship to organization.

Guest editors
The guest editors are Jo Brewis, University of Leicester, UK, and Mustafa Özbilgin, Brunel University, UK, and Université Paris-Dauphine, France.

Submission and informal enquiries
Papers should be submitted as e-mail attachments in Word 2007 if possible to, by 1st October 2012. Please ensure that you follow the C and O house style, as outlined at Papers should be between 8000 and 9000 words in length, and may be returned for shortening before consideration if the editors deem it appropriate.
Please also be aware that any images used in your submission must be your own, or where they are not you must already have permission to reproduce them in an academic journal. You should make this explicit in the submitted manuscript.
Please direct informal enquiries to Jo Brewis at

Item 2:
7th international interdisciplinary conference, 27th - 29th June 2012, Keele University, UK
Call for Abstracts: Eco-feminism, sustainability and organization

Stream Convenors:
Mary Brydon Miller, University of Cincinnati, USA
Anne Inga Hilsen, Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research, Oslo, NORWAY
Mary Phillips, University of Bristol, ENGLAND
Patricia Gayá Wicks, University of Bristol, ENGLAND

In the face of multiple ecological crises, such as climate change, pollution and depletion of biodiversity and habitat, the responses of most organizations and most mainstream management literature are characterized by greenwashing, the technical fix and a business case approach based on eco-efficiency. As Banerjee (2003, p. 173) points out: ‘There is still a belief that better technology and management and more “inclusive” procedures by international institutions...can save the planet’ while Harvey (1996, p. 148) comments that sustainability issues such as scarcity of resources, biodiversity, and ecological limits are subsumed in a debate about the ‘preservation of a particular social order rather than a debate about the preservation of nature per se’. The primacy of technology, science and economic progress remains largely unquestioned (Dryzek, 1997; Hopwood, Mellor and O’Brien, 2005; Newton and Harte, 1997; Shrivastava, 1994).

It is thus apparent that techno-rational responses to ecological challenges, where the environment/nature is presented as something to be managed through mastery and domination or appropriated, commodified and consumed (Banerjee, 2003), are grounded in what Connell has referred to as hegemonic masculinity (1995). Masculinity is aligned with reason, the mind and the human in dualistic frameworks that devalue the feminine, emotion, the body and the natural world. This is a long-established tenet of feminist theory, but its treatment has tended to focus on the implications for gender, instead of what it might mean for gender and nature. Ecofeminism has thus developed in response to the ways in which ‘woman’ and ‘nature’ are conceptually linked in Western thought, wherein the processes of inferiorization have been mutually reinforcing. In so doing, ecofeminism has the potential to mount a radical challenge to current organizational and academic discourses (Plumwood, 1993). This stream seeks to provide an arena through which ecofeminist concepts can be further developed in the context of studies of work and organization.

Ecofeminism was developed theoretically in the field of environmental ethics and it has largely been ignored, perhaps even silenced, outside this (Sturgeon, 1997, Twine, 2001) possibly because some early expositions tended to posit what were regarded as essentialist connections between women and nature (Mies and Shiva, 1993). However, ecofeminism is an approach that can articulate epistemic, moral and political positions by applying feminist philosophy and ethics to relations with the more than human world, thus generating broader theories of oppression and liberation. It seeks to illuminate the interwoven nature of imperialism, ecological degradation, exploitation of workers, racism and women’s oppression by offering critique but also by visioning creative alternatives that are life affirming and transformative. It does not, however, offer a grand theory to replace current truth claims. Instead, it is pluralist and multicultural yet committed to core values such as justice and caring. Karen Warren, whose work has been highly influential in the development of a philosophical ecofeminism, has metaphorized ecofeminism as a quilt: ‘An ecofeminist philosophical quilt will be made up of different “patches”, constructed by quilters in particular social, historical and materialist contexts’ (2000:66). In the same way that the borders of a quilt can contain an infinite richness of patterns, colours and designs, the parameters of ecofeminism allow for a wide range of emphases and methodologies (Cuomo, 2002).

In this stream we therefore seek papers that can be located broadly within an ecofeminist commitment to the study of gender and nature in work and organizations. More specifically, we are interested in papers that build on such an approach to provide a critical analysis of the gendered ways in which organizations, and organizational studies, represent, construct and appropriate nature and how that might be subverted and re-imagined. The primary aim is therefore to analyse the relations between gender, organization and the ‘natural world’.

Areas of interest include but are not limited to:
• Developing methodologies for ecofeminist research
• Enhancing ecofeminism through productive encounters and cross-fertilizations with feminist philosophers such as Hélène Cixous or Luce Irigaray
• Generative deconstructions of associations of masculinity with the domination of nature
• Envisioning embodied, emotional responses to ecological challenges
• Critiques of gendered sustainability discourses
• Ecofeminist responses to globalization
• Intersections between the colonization of nature and effects on disenfranchised communities
• Appropriations of nature in organizational strategies (eg representations in marketing, the development of eco-tourism, “wilderness” experiences)
• Connections between the devaluation and abjection of women’s bodies and maternality in organizations and that of nature
• Ecofeminist perspectives on animal ethics applied to organizations
• Ecofeminist spirituality as a means of enacting a critique of hyper-rationality

Abstracts of approximately 500 words (ONE page, Word document NOT PDF, single spaced, excluding references, no header, footers or track changes) are invited. We have had a good response to our previous call, but GWO has recognised that the deadline was unusually short particularly bearing in mind that the new academic year was about to start. We would therefore be delighted to receive abstracts until the end of October.

All abstracts will be peer reviewed. New and young scholars with 'work in progress' papers are welcomed. In the case of co-authored papers, ONE person should be identified as the corresponding author. Note that due to restrictions of space, multiple submissions by the same author will not be timetabled. In the first instance, abstracts should be emailed to Abstracts should include FULL contact details, including your name, institutional affiliation, mailing address, and e-mail address. State the title of the stream to which you are submitting your abstract.

Item 3:
EXHIBITION and SEMINARS celebrating the Festival of Social Science: From Lucy to Language to a Culture of Enterprise and Innovation
In The Chapel, Foresight Centre, University of Liverpool, 31st October – 3rd November

Objects largely make and give shape to our lives. They place human beings in a special constructed world. How did they come to do this? This exhibition is inspired partly by the BBC’s popular History of the World in a hundred objects. But we take selected series of objects from the times of human origins up the modern age, and explore their themes – stone technology, fire, cave art, and complex worlds – and add to these seminars on key aspects of enterprise and innovation.

This programme helps to celebrate the Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Science, and is organised for the department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology (part of the School of Histories, Languages and Culture).

The exhibits show how objects are at the very core of what it is to be human, and integral to the networks of relationships we call communities, societies, organizations and enterprises. Rarely are social networks simply that - they are more truly sociotechnical. They are enabled and held together by invented and engineered artefacts. Every artefact, invention or artwork, or corporate brand logo embodies an opportunity to learn about culture at the level of nation, region, or even an individual enterprise.

The exhibition and its supporting seminars demonstrate new and thought provoking insights into culture - gained through the endeavours of archaeology and anthropology in the social sciences. They range from anthropologies of technology and art to studies of entrepreneurship and innovation.

All are welcome to the exhibition from 12-2 each day, and to come to the seminars as advertised. For further information and to arrange any group attendances at other times, please email Prof. John Gowlett,, or Peter Bond, The Foresight Centre Chapel is at, 1 Brownlow Street, Liverpool. L69 3GL

The project website:

Item 4:

Guest Editors: Gavin Jack (La Trobe University), Samantha Warren (University of Essex), Kathleen Riach (University of Essex) & Antonio Strati (University of Trento)

This special issue seeks to provoke renewed thinking and stimulate ideas surrounding how culture is experienced through the senses. As Martin (2002: 161) suggests, given the increased attention to emotion in recent organizational theory, an approach that can tackle the aesthetics, lived, experienced dimension of culture may provide inspirations for exciting new research vistas. This is especially so in light of the affective turn and interest in non-representational theory within the wider social sciences (Thrift, 2007). If we are to explore what culture ‘feels’ like for organizational members in contemporary workplaces, and their “intensities of feeling, emotional attachments and gut reactions” (Liljestrom & Paasonen, 2010: 1), we must suggest that cultural encounters are created and constituted through perceptual, cognitive, material and embodied interaction.

The concern with culture, be it organizational, subcultural, national or popular continues to linger in the academic debates within management studies (e.g. Ybema et al., 2010; Organization Science, 2011). Invited to interrogate the essence of this miasmic concept, the ways that we share, experience, feel and embody its presence imply that the tentacles of culture go far beyond normative forms of logic and communication and implicate the sensory dimension of lived experience. Indeed, an underlying suggestion that culture cannot be grasped through logocentric accounts alone can be traced to 1980’s corporate culturism where a manufactured culture may be shared through the use of ‘artefacts’, or visible signs such as organizational traditions, rituals, heroes and stories. Simultaneously, an instantiative view of culture of various hues critiqued functionalist paradigms of culture and focused on the interactional and symbolic processes through which actors in organizations ‘accomplished’ their worlds (Chan, 2003; Frost et al., 1991; Smircich, 1983; Martin, 1992). More recently a ‘cultural studies of organization’ approach (Rhodes & Parker, 2008) has made use of popular culture resources and techniques to understand and deconstruct organizational life, focusing on the meanings of social action in both a productive or consumptive context. So too have particular forms of postcolonial analysis denaturalised the textual strategies used to organise racial inequalities and the latent imperialism of a variety of culture management and marketing activities (Priyadharshini, 2003). However, in these fields of interest, sight and vision - in line with the wider ocular bias of Western societies - remain the privileged sense for the leveraging of social control or influence implicit in culture management initiatives.

Whilst the current field of organizational aesthetics helps us focus on the ‘don’t-know-what’ of organizational life (Strati, 2007) tales of our senses being managed, manipulated and controlled remain unrecorded by scholars although are often discussed in media and practitioner circles (Tischler, 2005; Lindstrom, 2010). Sensory marketing is now estimated to be worth more than $5 million worldwide, and with impending computer technologies such as ismell and SENX on the market within 3 years, the traditional boundaries between virtual and ‘authentic’ sensuality continue to blur in our daily experience. Within the workplace, UK travel call centres broadcast ‘natural noises’ and infuse the air with the smell of suntan lotion to motivate agents on the workfloor. Elsewhere, buildings are architecturally designed to be silent but pump in air-conditioning noises to allow confidential discussion in an open plan office, whilst music may be a ‘gift’ to workers that can be bequeathed or sanctioned (Korczynski & Jones, 2006). All this suggests that, like cultural products and objects, sensory experiences can become a ‘lubricant for the system’ (Adorno, 2001:117).

However, notwithstanding some notable exceptions that explore how knowing and competence are achieved through the senses (e.g., Strati, 2007; Candau, 2000; Hindemarsh & Plinick, 2007) less is understood about the ways in which actors in organizations feel, smell, touch, taste, hear or otherwise sensually negotiate culture and the social relations that it constitutes. Perhaps this is a consequence of the textualization and visualisation of culture that has dominated recent scholarship in a variety of disciplines, organization studies included, with “its tendency to downplay the sensory and the material in accounts of society and culture while conceptualizing cultural phenomena as discourses, texts of systems to be interpreted” (Liljestrom & Paasonen, 2010: 1). As a response, a cross-disciplinary ‘affective turn’ (Clough & Halley, 2007) has emerged to reconsider non-representational and embodiment issues in the development of theoretical and empirical accounts of work and organization.

Subsequently, we invite contributions exploring the following indicative areas:
• How might we better understand the cultural circuits that stimulate affective work through a sensory lens?
• How, and with what kinds of success, might a consideration of the senses aid the theoretical and conceptual development of culture at work?
• What might be the implications of the ‘affective turn’ in the social sciences for the study of the senses, emotion, work and organization?
• What is the sensory experience of, living in/through/by culture at work?
• In what ways is culture constructed, understood or reproduced through sensual or polysensory processes?
• How might sensual methodologies provide us with new insights into organizational culture? What ethical issues are implied?
• To what extent does organizational engagement with the senses privilege or silence particular groups, bodies, or types of work?

We particularly welcome ambitious studies that go beyond a Western/Eurocentric hierarchy of the senses and take into account thermoreception, coenaesthesis, vibration, nociception (pain), movement or proximity to other bodies. These areas are already explored in disciplines ranging from anthropology to physiology (e.g., Bessour & Perl, 1969; Stoller, 1989; Classen et al., 1994).

Anonymised full papers no longer than 7000 words (not under review elsewhere), using IJWOE guidelines for authors, should be e-mailed to by 31st March, 2012. Refer to submission practices at for further details. Please address any queries to the special issue editors on the above e-mail.