Workshop on “Connections in Action: Keeping Track of Large Social Phenomena using Relational and ‘Micro-sociological’ approaches”

Location: University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

Date: December 5th (2pm) to December 6th (4pm)

Theme: One of the challenges that process, practice and organizational routine studies share with other micro-sociological approaches (Collins, 1981) is how to deal with some of the ‘big issues’ or ‘grand challenges’ of our times. Examples of such issues include the nature and functioning of financial markets, the rise and fall of large institutional arrangements, the global travel of idea and ideologies, inequality, the bureaucracy and its failures, climate change and the future of the planet.

While work in this direction starts to emerge, current theoretical and methodological approaches appear to be generally ill-equipped to grasp social phenomena that are increasingly “complex, dynamic, distributed, mobile, transient, and unprecedented” (Feldman & Orlikowski, 2011: 1240). As a consequence  studies primarily concerned with understanding local situated action have been accused of ‘micro-isolationism’ (Seidl & Whittington, 2014) and therefore of little relevance outside academic circles. In contrast, studies describing large phenomenon by focusing on macro-level dynamics and processes are accused of lacking practice relevance as practitioners struggle to grasp the relevance of these abstract ideas to their local practices and everyday work. Thus, scholarly attempts of grasping large social phenomena through their local enactments are also closely related to what can be done about them.

Aim: In this international workshop we aim to bring together scholars who explore how we can account for and keep track of large phenomena utilising existing and new ‘micro-sociological’ and relational approaches in organisation studies. Our aim is to (1) advance theorizing about large social phenomena, (2) re-imagine our methods of inquiry in a way that they are more productive in dealing with the complexity of contemporary organizing (see also Law & Urry, 2011), (3) exchange about the challenges in doing this kind of research and (4) develop exemplary studies that path the way for a new stream of research.

Program: The final program will include a mix of keynote presentations, interactive sessions in which participants can discuss their projects in small groups and a networking event. Confirmed keynote speakers are Paula Jarzabkowski, Barbara Czarniawska and Jennifer Howard-Grenville. The closing panel will include David Seidl, the three keynote speakers and the organizers. The workshop will be deliberately designed to be highly interactive, explorative and speculative.

Arrangement: To cover the cost for refreshments, lunch and dinner we ask participants to pay a fee of £100 (without accomodation) and £175 (including accomodation and breakfast). Participation is strictly limited to 30 places so early application is encouraged. To apply as a contributor, please send an extended abstract of 3000 words by September 15th to dawn.coton@wbs.ac.uk. Applications will be selected based on demonstrable alignment of their project with the theme of the workshop. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by October 15th. Registrations close by November 15th.

Organizers:  Davide Nicolini, University of Warwick, Katharina Dittrich, University of Zurich

For more information on the workshop please contact katharina.dittrich@uzh.ch or dawn.coton@wbs.ac.uk.

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