Commanding materials: (Re)legitimating authority in the context of multi-disciplinary work

Joanna Latimer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article explores some specific consequences of 'crisis of legitimation' for relations of power. Drawing together sociological concerns over power/knowledge with anthropological understandings about the place of materials in the ordering of relations, the article analyses how authority is legitimated in the context of multiple possibilities for interpretation and conduct. The site of exploration is an ethnography of multi-disciplinary work in a British hospital trust. Developing the notion of 'extension' the article describes how hospital consultants align social practices and cultural materials to (re)accomplish asymmetrical power relations. The article revisits Lyotard's (1984) ideas about 'strong moves' and ends by arguing for greater sociological attention to the place of materials in the ordering of relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-775
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004


  • Cultural materials
  • Extension
  • Language games
  • Legitimation
  • Moves
  • Multidisciplinary

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