Rematerializing the Workaday World
Edited by Alfons van Marrewijk and Dvora Yanow
Chapter 6: Space as Context and Content: The Diwan as a Frame and a Structure for Decision-making
David Weir It is by now quite well agreed that space is a core dimension of organizational analysis (Kornberger and Clegg 2004), but it is by no means equally clear how space works in organizational life. Nor are definitions of space universally accepted and used among ethnographic researchers. Earlier work has tried to codify the different ways in which locational concepts have been used in the ‘community studies’ tradition in ethnographic work in Britain (Lambert and Weir 1976). Space can be seen, for example, as a frame within which organizational events occur or as a location, defined by other social or organizational parameters, at which organizationally significant occurrences happen. In this chapter I argue that space is indeed both of these but that the way it is organized in different cultures conditions certain types of organizational behaviour and that these conditionings are both cause and consequence of other aspects of organizational structure. Thus, where in one culture it is the external framings and structures that are organizationally significant, in another it may be more illuminating to consider the ways in which apparently ‘free’ space, unencumbered by structural divisions or boundaries, is used in a variety of contexts. In this interpretation I follow the proposal of Castells (1996, p. 410) who argues that space is ‘not a reflection of society, it is its expression. In other words: space is not a photocopy of society, it is society’. Lefebvre (1991, p. 73) goes even further: ‘social space is not a thing among...
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