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Constructing Organizational Life – How Social-Symbolic Work Shapes Selves, Organizations, and Institutions - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Constructing Organizational Life: How Social-Symbolic Work Shapes Selves, Organizations, and Institutions

Thomas B. Lawrence and Nelson Phillips


Across the social sciences, scholars are showing how people “work” on facets of social life that were once thought to be beyond human intervention. Facets of social life once considered to be embedded in human nature, dictated by God, or shaped by macro‐level social forces beyond human control, are now widely understood as socially constructed – made and given meaning by people through social interaction, and consequently the focus of efforts to change them. Studies of these efforts have explored new forms of work including emotion work, identity work, boundary work, strategy work, institution ... More

Keywords: social‐symbolic work, social‐symbolic objects, agency, social structure, self, organization, institution, emotion, identity, careers, strategy, boundaries, technology, practices, categories

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780198840022
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198840022.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Thomas B. Lawrence, author
Professor of Strategy, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

Nelson Phillips, author
Abu Dhabi Chamber Chair in Strategy and Innovation, Imperial College Business School