Following the Constitution of an Organizational “Way of Seeing”: Intertwining Talk, Body and Materiality in Context

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: 423
Oral Presentation
Sylvie GROSJEAN , Department of communication, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Many practices within organizations are centered on the visual capacities of the agents. For example, in the field of architecture (Ewenstein & White, 2007; Styrhe, 2011), construction (Nicolini, 2007), medicine (Mondada, 2003; Alač, 2008), scientific work (Daston, 2008; Vittereti, 2012; Vertesi, 2012), researchers have shown how the members share a “professional vision” (Goodwin, 1994). These studies investigated visual practices in professional communities and demonstrated their role in the production, creation of knowledge, expertise and so on. Following the work initiated by these studies, my objective is to analyze and understand how an organizational “way of seeing” is interactionally constituted and shared as a means to sustain the production of expertise. To do so, I conducted an organizational ethnography (Ybema et al., 2009) in 2012 in a firm of land surveyors. The video recording of the daily activities was privileged (Heath et al., 2010) in order to grasp the multimodal dimension of the interactions (Mondada, 2008). I studied the survey work as a situated activity and an interactional activity based on a variety of multimodal resources such as speech, gestures and manipulation of objects or technologies. In this study, I analyzed how organizational members progressively and jointly build expertise about a property, and, in particular, how specific “practices of seeing” (Styrhe, 2010) are constituted through the daily work activities. My goal is to reveal how materiality, corporeality and language play a key role in the constitution of a collective “way of seeing” in organization. In this presentation, I would like to contribute to the discussion of the role of “socio-technical arrangements/agencements” (Callon, 2004; Latour, 2005) in processes of constituting an organizational “way of seeing”.