Somatechnics Journal Edinburgh University Press
Call for papers: The Somatechnics of Organizations

Guest edited by Ohad Ben Shimon

https://www.euppublishing.com/doi/story/10.3366/news.2021.10.18.500404

Since canonical early Fordist-era scientific management theory (Taylor, 1912) an almost taken-for-granted assumption within organizational theory and practice is that the role of the body is to bring the brains to work. The shift from an industrial (Fordist) economy to a knowledge-based (post-Fordist) economy has only helped facilitate the continual neglect and disappearance of the body where it is no longer the main instrument of production. Together with the rise in communication technology, creative production and predominantly cognitive forms of capitalism (Moulier-Boutang, 2012), “thinking for a living” (Davenport, 2005h) has highly impacted the way bodies are perceived and treated in organizations. 

When critically interrogating the ontological foundations upon which current-day organizations constitute themselves, we encounter a stiffening and normalizing tendency to limit the imaginaries of what an organization actually is or could be. While organization has often come to mean “the appropriation of order out of disorder” (Cooper, 1990: 193), and the act of organizing as one that “involves making patterns that endure in some way” (Parker, 2000) everyday lived experiences of bodies in organizations and political ecologies of degradation and environmental conflict seem to point to the opposite. Burn-out, fatigue, exhaustion, over-work, depression, decay, resource depletion, all indicate that disorder and entropy is gaining the upper hand. 

Mainstream organizational theory itself seems to be confined in an inner-outer disciplined and disciplinary boundary making of what is included and what is excluded in such scholarship. The notion of a boundary that circumscribes ‘organization’ as a theoretical object aims to represent, rather than create, what organizations and organizational theory is meant to be and can do to face current-day societal challenges. 

‘Organization’ has also played a key role as an explanatory metaphor and structuring concept in biology since modernity in the manner in which bodies are anatomized, classified and perceived as bounded entities which, more often than not, warrants the fixity of their ontological status. A well ‘organized body’ (Carter, 1983: 23) is one which is “made up of structures, boundaries and organs” (Dale and Burrell, 2000: 15), in a similar vein to how “organizations are social entities that are goal-directed, deliberately structured activity systems with an identifiable boundary” (Daft, 1989: 9-10) that understands organizing as a finished outcome (Cooper and Law, 1995) rather than a continual process of shifting relationships within networks of human and nonhuman actors.

Rather than forcing a totalizing account of what organization is or can mean when explored through the prism of soma, the body and technics, this special issue invites contributions that critically examine how the somatechnics of ‘organization’ can be made uncomfortable and uprooted from its ‘executive’ seat in organizational theory and practice. Instead this special issue would like to imagine and mobilize the somatechnics of ‘organization’ in myriad, active, embodied and process-based innovative ways. 

We are interested in work that:

  • Discusses the human and non-human material and embodied dimensions of organizations/organizing
  • Imagines new ways of organizing human and non-human “bodies” and organizations alongside, in conflict or codependent on each other 
  • Links disorganization/chaos, self-organization and resistance to the somatechnics of organizations
  • Explores artistic and curatorial practice-based research as alternative methods of organizing
  • Looks at Anarchism & the somatechnics of organization as an alternative theory of organizing
  • Uses empirical Anthropological/Ethnographic qualitative research methods/fieldwork to reveal the “hidden” somatechnics of organizations
  • Explores everyday organizational techniques and strategies (i.e time-management, planning, scheduling, labor rights) as ambivalently situated and embodied practices of control/emancipation.

Please send 200-300 word abstracts to: o.benshimon@uu.nl

Abstracts are due: December 1st, 2021.

Full articles of 6,000-,7000 words are due January 15th, 2022.

We also welcome shorter review essays of 5,000-6,000 words.

References:

Carter, R. Descartes’ Medical Philosophy. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins, University Press, 1983.
Cooper, R. and Law, J. “Organization: distal and proximal views”, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 13: pp. 237-74, 1995.
Cooper, R. “Organization/Disorganization,” in Hassard, J. and  Pym, D. (eds) The Theory and Philosophy of Organization: Critical Issues and New Perspectives. London: Routledge: pp. 167–97, 1990.
Daft, R. Organization Theory and Design, 3rd edition. St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1989.
Dale, K. and Burrell, G. “What Shape Are We In? Organization Theory and the Organized Body.” Body and Organization. Edited by Hassard, J., Holliday, R. and Willmott, H. London: SAGE Publications Ltd, pp. 16-30, 2000.
Davenport, T. H. Thinking for a Living. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2005.
Moulier-Boutang, Y. Cognitive Capitalism. Polity Press, 2012.
Parker, M “Manufacturing Bodies: Flesh, Organization, Cyborgs”. Body and Organization. Edited by Hassard, J, et al., editors. Body and Organization.London: SAGE Publications Ltd, 2000.
Taylor, F. “The principles of scientific management”, Addresses and Discussions at the Conference on Scientific Management Held Oct 12, 13, 14, 1911, Amos Tuck School of Administration and Finance, Dartmouth College, pp. 22-55, 1912.

Ohad Ben Shimon is a writer, researcher and educator with a background in cognitive sciences, psychology, cultural analysis and art. He is currently Senior Lecturer Critical Thinking/ Business Communication & Researcher of Change Management at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. His research focuses on how to affirmatively include, value, care for, and perform bodies in organizations.

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