Towards an Articulation of the Material and Visual Turn in Organization Studies

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Contemporary organizations increasingly rely on images, logos, videos, building materials, graphic and product design, and a range of other material and visual artifacts to compete, communicate, form identity and organize their activities. This Special Issue focuses on materiality and visuality in the course of objectifying and reacting to novel ideas, and, more broadly, contributes to organizational theory by articulating the emergent contours of a material and visual turn in the study of organizations. In this Introduction, we provide an overview of research on materiality and visuality. Drawing on the articles in the special issue, we further explore the affordances and limits of the material and visual dimensions of organizing in relation to novelty. We conclude by pointing out theoretical avenues for advancing multimodal research, and discuss some of the ethical, pragmatic and identity-related challenges that a material and visual turn could pose for organizational research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number5-6
Pages (from-to)597-616
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Published online: 8. May 2018


  • Affordances
  • Material and visual turn
  • Materiality
  • Multimodality
  • Novelty
  • Organization theory
  • Visuality

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