Organizational Spaces

Organizational Spaces

Rematerializing the Workaday World

Edited by Alfons van Marrewijk and Dvora Yanow

This insightful book poses interesting theoretical and methodological questions for the processes of spatial design and the treatment of workspaces in organizational settings of various kinds. The contributors expertly answer the need for practical field research on spatial settings and materiality in organizations of various sorts.

Chapter 2: Corridor Communication, Spatial Design and Patient Safety: Enacting and Managing Complexities

Rick Iedema, Debbi Long and Katherine Carroll

Subjects: business and management, critical management studies, organisation studies, research methods in business and management, research methods, research methods in business and management, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


Rick Iedema, Debbi Long and Katherine Carroll Spatial arrangement has long been seen as key to marking and structuring social interaction (Low and Lawrence-Zuñiga 2003). Central to early efforts to map practices onto spaces was the study of how and to what extent spaces were institutionally inscribed and of how boundaries between social spaces were marked and maintained (Douglas 1966). These socio-cultural descriptions of social space have since converged with political analyses of space (Lefebvre 1991), engendering interest in how ‘techniques of the body’ and habitus can be related to socio-political space (Bourdieu 1977). Another strand of spatial enquiry has turned to the complex relationship between space as structure and place as phenomenology (Bachelard 1964). This nexus between social space and experiential place was further pursued in the work of Hall (1966) and Goffman (1959), both of whom underscored the importance of identifying the interactive affordances of spatiality. In analysing the micro-geographies of social life, Goffman proposed that spaces are experienced as being either public ‘frontstages’ or more private ‘backstages’, with both favouring different performances and different selves. Subsequent anthropological work has suggested that backstage spaces may be seen as being less inscribed with conduct regulations and institutional prerequisites than are frontstage spaces (Irvine 1979). In the case of hospitals, backstage spaces would include transit spaces such as stairwells and corridors that create connections among frontstage spaces such as consultation rooms, wards, meeting rooms, operating theatres, entrances, offices, and so forth. But connecting spaces, such as stairwells and corridors,...

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