The Challenge of Materiality: Origins, Scope, and Prospects

Jannis Kallinikos, Paul M. Leonardi and Bonnie A. Nardi

in Materiality and Organizing

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199664054
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745423 | DOI:
The Challenge of Materiality: Origins, Scope, and Prospects

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Despite appearing to be straightforward, the concept of materiality turns out to be rather evasive and difficult to pin down. Similar to the horizon, the understanding of materiality seems to recede as we approach it. This chapter reviews the major divides in social thought and reprises the inherent tension that is, among other things, associated with, whether the focus is on the interactive order (the situated character of human encounters) versus the structural order (the stable conditions that shape and reproduce social practices). This chapter suggests that such epistemological and ontological differences recur through the ages and are unlikely to be resolved in any definite way, even though advances can be made in one or another frontier of social inquiry. Yet, materiality and technology raise new challenges and provide novel avenues and conceptual tools for rethinking these recurrent and persistent questions. The chapter reviews several of these challenges in this chapter and points to conceptual tools that may be useful in sorting out how materiality makes and is made by the social world.

Keywords: materiality; function; construction; theory; philosophy; organizing

Chapter.  9053 words. 

Subjects: Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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