Call for Papers
In this sub-theme, we aim to explore the promise of practice-based theories and related theoretical perspectives that all adopt a relational ontology, to understand and cultivate inclusive organizations. For some time, the development of new theoretical approaches has been high on the agenda in reviews of the diversity and inclusion literature (Zanoni et al., 2010). Given the current “urgency” to advance the study of inclusion and equality in organizations (Nkomo et al., 2019), this sub-theme starts from the idea that diversity research would strongly benefit from theoretical innovation through exploring and adopting practice theory and its theoretical allies. While the value of practice theory has been compellingly adopted in management and organization studies (MOS) with several domain-specific applications such as strategy, knowledge and learning, and technology, the study of diversity and inclusion has until recently been rather slow in joining the bandwagon of practice-based approaches. Inspired by a range of practice-based attempts to re-specify diversity-related phenomena (see Janssens & Steyaert, 2019; 2020; O’Leary & Sandberg, 2017), we invite contributions that offer conceptual, empirical, and methodological proposals to the question of how research on diversity and inclusion can (be supported to) make a more definite turn to practice.
The slow uptake of practice-theory is almost ironic considering that notions like ‘practice’ and ‘best practice’ feature highly in diversity research. Going beyond the use of these notions in a “commonsensical” way (Sandberg & Tsoukas, 2016), we call for contributions that draw from the work of prominent social theorists like Bourdieu (1990), Shove (2014) and Schatzki (2002), and of leading practice theorists in Organization Studies, such as Gherardi (2019a) and Nicolini (2013). Furthermore, practice-based theories are related to many theoretical approaches that share some prime ontological and epistemological assumptions. Taking into account that practice theory is part of a larger movement within the social sciences that emphasize ‘materiality’, ‘embodiment’, ‘emotions’ and ‘practice’ (Tsoukas & Sandberg, 2016), we want to examine fruitful complementarities and synergies with performative gender studies (Berger et al., 2015), and feminist and queer approaches (Ahmed, 2006). This allows us to deepen out the affective (Gherardi, 2017) and embodied (Tyler, 2019) elements of entangled practices in order to focus on the relationships between diversity, affect and embodiment (Fotaki & Pullen, 2019). Also, actor-network theory (Sage et al., 2019) and, more broadly, socio-material and other posthuman (Gherardi, 2019b) approaches can conceptually expand the understanding of the material and sited nature of diversity practices by studying how objects, tools and spaces are intertwined in the performance of diversity-, gender- and queer-phenomena (Tyler & Cohen, 2010).
We consider the following themes and questions relevant for potential contributions, even if this list is not meant to be exhaustive:
Re-considerations of the philosophical and ontological premises on which we can ground recursive and ‘flat’ conceptualizations of diversity and inclusion
Theoretical practice-based conceptualizations (Bourdieu, Giddens, Shove, Schatzki, etc.) of excluding phenomena – such as whiteness, homophobia, ableism, language hegemony – and alternative, inclusion-oriented phenomena – such as gender and sexual equality, super-diversity, multilingualism, etc.
Advancements of new thematizations of inclusion and diversity that intertwine material, discursive, embodied and affective elements
Empirical illustrations of practice-based approaches that identify and analyze significant practices of inclusive organizing and/or document the practices that interrupt the reproduction of inequality regimes
Methodological advancements of the theory-method packages to study inclusion and diversity in processual, recursive and post-dual ways
Inquiries of interconnections between practice-based and performative, socio-material, posthuman and queer theories
- Ahmed, S. (2006): Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Object, Others. Durham: Duke University Press.
- Berger, L., Benschop, Y., & van den Brink, M. (2015): “Practicing gender when networking: The case of university-industry innovation projects.” Gender, Work & Organization, 22 (6), 556–578.
- Bourdieu, P. (1990): The Logic of Practice. Cambridge: Polity.
- Fotaki, M., & Pullen, A. (eds.) (2019): Diversity, Affect and Embodiment in Organizing. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Gherardi, S. (2017): “One turn… and now another one: Do the turn to practice and the turn to affect have something in common?” Management Learning, 48 (3), 345–58.
- Gherardi, S. (2019a): How to Conduct a Practice-based Study: Problems and Methods. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
- Gherardi, S. (2019b): “If we practice posthumanist research, do we need ‘gender’ any longer?” Gender, Work & Organization, 26 (1), 40–53.
- Janssens, M., & Steyaert, C. (2019): “A practice-based theory of diversity: Re-specifying (in)equality in organizations.” Academy of Management Review, 44 (3), 518–37.
- Janssens, M., & Steyaert, C. (2020): “The site of diversalizing: The accomplishment of inclusion in intergenerational dance.” Journal of Management Studies, 57 (6), 1143–1173.
- Nicolini, D. (2013): Practice Theory, Work and Organization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Nkomo, S.M., Bell, M.P., Joshi, A., Roberts, L.M., & Thatcher, S. (2019): “Diversity at a critical juncture: New theories for a complex phenomenon.” Academy of Management Review, 44 (3), 498–517.
- O’Leary, J., & Sandberg, J. (2017): “Managers’ practice of managing diversity revealed: A practice-theoretical account.” Journal of Organizational Behavior, 38 (4), 512–536.
- Sage, D., Vitry, C., & Dainty, A. (2019): “Exploring the organizational proliferation of technologies: An affective actor-network theory.” Organization Studies, 41 (3), 345–363.
- Sandberg, J., & Tsoukas, H. (2016): “Practice theory: What it is, its philosophical base, and what it offers organization studies.” In: R.A. Mir, H. Willmott & M. Greenwood (eds.): Companion to Philosophy in Organization Studies. New York: Routledge, 184–198.
- Schatzki, T.R. (2002): The Site of the Social: A Philosophical Account of the Constitution of Social Life and Change. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press.
- Shove, E. (2014): “Putting practice into policy: Reconfiguring questions of consumption and climate change.” Contemporary Social Science, 9 (4), 415–429.
- Tyler, M. (2019): Reassembling difference? Rethinking inclusion through/as embodied ethics.” Human Relations, 72 (1), 48–68.
- Tyler, M., & Cohen, L. (2010): “Spaces that matter: Gender performativity and organizational space.” Organization Studies, 31 (2), 175–98.
- Zanoni, P., Janssens, M., Benschop, Y., & Nkomo, S. (2010): “Unpacking diversity, grasping inequality: rethinking difference through critical perspectives.” Organization, 17 (1), 9–29.