The Body Dances: Carnival Dance and Organization

Natalia Slutskaya*, Christian De Cock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Building on the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Maurice Merleau-Ponty we seek to open up traditional categories of thought surrounding the relation 'body-organization' and elicit a thought experiment: What happens if we move the body from the periphery to the centre? We pass the interlocking theoretical concepts of object-body/subject-body and habitus through the theoretically constructed empirical case of 'carnival dance' in order to re-evaluate such key organizational concepts as knowledge and learning. In doing so, we connect with an emerging body of literature on 'sensible knowledge'; knowledge that is produced and preserved within bodily practices. The investigation of habitual appropriation in carnival dance also allows us to make links between repetition and experimentation, and reflect on the mechanism through which the principles of social organization, whilst internalized and experienced as natural, are embodied so that humans are capable of spontaneously generating an infinite array of appropriate actions. This perspective on social and organizational life, where change and permanence are intricately interwoven, contrasts sharply with the dominant view in organization studies which juxtaposes change/ creativity and stability.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)851-868
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Body
  • Bourdieu
  • Carnival
  • Creativity
  • Knowledge
  • Learning
  • Merleau-Ponty

Cite this