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How Matter MattersObjects, Artifacts, and Materiality in Organization Studies$
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Paul R. Carlile, Davide Nicolini, Ann Langley, and Haridimos Tsoukas

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199671533

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199671533.001.0001

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How Matter Matters: Objects, Artifacts, and Materiality in Organization Studies

How Matter Matters: Objects, Artifacts, and Materiality in Organization Studies

Introducing the Third Volume of “Perspectives on Organization Studies”

(p.1) 1 How Matter Matters: Objects, Artifacts, and Materiality in Organization Studies
How Matter Matters

Paul R. Carlile

Davide Nicolini

Ann Langley

Haridimos Tsoukas

Oxford University Press

The idea that objects, especially in the form of technology, should be included in theoretical accounts of organizing is not new. However, despite the noteworthy efforts to understand organizations as “socio-technical systems,” the “technical” was seen as distinct and separate from the “social,” with the hyphen marking their inter-action. In this introductory essay we survey developments that view, more broadly, the “social” and the “material” (not just the “technical”) as being mutually constituted (inherently entangled), hence the emphasis on sociomateriality (no hyphen). Recent developments in social and organization theory that take materiality seriously undermine the distinction between “subject” and “object,” which they see not as an ontological condition but, rather, as a result of historically situated human activity of a particular kind of episteme. In this essay we draw attention to a particular aspect of the rediscovery of sociomateriality, which is ethics. Insofar as matter does matter, it generates consequences and, therefore, an ethical dimension grows out of such an approach. Such an ethical dimension has been implicit in some discussions about materiality and accountability, but so far it has not received any formal attention. Such attention raises particular questions about how sociomaterial entanglements are produced, how they are conceptualized and potentially separated as individuals actively draw a line between human and non-human actors as they reflect on their experiences.

Keywords:   materiality, socio-technical systems, ethics, performative theory, practice

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