Feeling the Reel of the Real: Framing the Play of Critically Affective Organizational Research between Art and the Everyday

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This paper considers a number of issues hampering the application of arts based
“playful” methods in organization studies once the close
relationships between ethnography and aesthetic research, and the
connections between art and everyday experience, are recognised.
Drawing particularly from the creative ethnographies of Kathleen Stewart,
Dwight Conquergood and H. L. Goodall Jr it suggests that the performative
nature of artistic cultural texts lies in their intention to move their audience
towards new sensitivities, awareness, and even learning. Critique is not
oppositional to such development, being essential for fully creative
movement. The paper therefore suggests that what is needed are critically
affective performative texts. For such texts to be socially, politically and
epistemologically defensible, and thus a viable form for researchers to
consider adopting, it is necessary to understand how they work to generate
critical momentum, and what possible lines are available for justifying and
evaluating creative approaches that challenge orthodox organizational
research in being neither objective, representational nor expressive. The
paper outlines four “moments” of critical leverage – aesthetic, poetic,
ethical and political - that work in play with each other to create powerful
artistic texts, and illustrates them by drawing on work-related literature,
music, poetry and art, including workplace ethnographies. This framework
enables the location or artistic and “playful” methods epistemologically and
ontologically relative to other modes of research and offers a robust
justification for their further use in the field of organization studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-344
Number of pages26
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number2-3
Early online date3 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2017. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details


  • organizational aesthetics, organizational ethnography, cultural performance, critical affectivity, performance tests, arts-based methods
  • cultural performance
  • organizational aesthetics
  • performance texts
  • organizational ethnography
  • arts-based methods
  • critical affectivity

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