Sub-theme 45: Materiality, Human Agency and Practice

Eleni Lamprou
ALBA Graduate Business School, Greece
Nathalie Mitev
King's College London, UK
Lucas D. Introna
Lancaster University, UK

Call for Papers

The 'practice turn' (Schatzki et al., 2001) has contributed to a deeper appreciation of performativity and the respective role of human agents and material artefacts in organizational practice. Within the practice turn, 'sociomateriality' emerged as a lens for conceptualizing the texture of organizational practice, arguing for the constitutive entanglement of human agents and material artefacts (Orlikowski, 2007; Orlikowski & Scott, 2008). One of the most important contributions of the sociomateriality debate has been the subsequent problematization of 'materiality', which extended a long tradition of questioning the prominence of human agency in social practices (Latour, 2005). This revived interest has given way to insightful contributions on how the ‘material’ matters in organizational practice (Carlile et al., 2013; de Vaujany & Mitev, 2013; Leonardi et al., 2012).

In this sub-theme, we wish to explore implications of alternative conceptualizations of the relation between the social and the material for understanding reflexive and responsible practice. We recognize that the relation between the social/human and the technical/material is a highly contested terrain with many competing theoretical orientations. We want to explore this relation (interrelation, mediation, imbrication, constitutive entanglement, incorporation, etc.) and its consequences for practice, reflexivity and responsibility. Literature on reflexive practice (Yanow & Tsoukas, 2009) and ethical sensibility (Introna, 2002) has highlighted the relevance of materiality (Introna, 2007), but how do different understandings of the relationship between the social and the material affect approaches to organizations and the 'examined practice'? What kind of implications do these alternative understandings have for how an examined practice may be achieved?

We invite scholars who study materiality and its implications for organizational practice and responsibility to submit theoretical, empirical and methodological papers that may engage with – but are not limited to:

  • Materiality as ground, occasion, resource, offshoot of the examined practice
  • Obligation, responsibility and relations of accountability in the examined practice
  • Reason, affect and the body in the interplay between the social and the material
  • Forms of self-awareness and relation to materiality
  • Temporality, materiality and reflexivity
  • Digital artefacts, digital actors, digital environments
  • Dichotomies, reflexivity and responsibility
  • The examined practice of the researcher: concerns and considerations in theorizing the social and the material




  • Carlile, P.R., Nicolini, D., Langley, A., & Tsoukas, H. (eds.) (2013): How Matter Matters: Objects, Artifacts, and Materiality in Organization Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • De Vaujany, F., & Mitev, N. (eds.) (2013): Materiality and Space: Organizations, Artefacts and Practices. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Introna, L. (2002): "The (im)possibility of ethics in the information age." Information and Organization, 12 (2), 71–84.
  • Introna, L. (2007): "Maintaining the reversibility of foldings: Making the ethics (politics) of information technology visible." Ethics and Information Technology, 9, 11–25.
  • Latour, B. (2005): Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Leonardi, P.M., Nardi, B.A., & Kallinikos, J. (eds.) (2012): Materiality and Organizing: Social Interaction in a Technological World. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Orlikowski, W.J. (2007): "Sociomaterial practices: Exploring technology at work." Organization Studies, 28 (9), 1435–1448.
  • Orlikowski, W.J., & Scott, S.V. (2008): "Sociomateriality: Challenging the separation of technology, work and organization." The Academy of Management Annals, 2 (1), 433–474.
  • Schatzki, T.R., Knorr-Cetina, K., & von Savigny, E. (eds.) (2001): The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory. London: Routledge.
  • Yanow, D., & Tsoukas, H. (2009): "What is reflection-in-action? A phenomenological account." Journal of Management Studies, 46 (8), 1331–1364.


Eleni Lamprou is an Associate Research Fellow at ALBA Graduate Business School at the American College of Greece. She has previously held positions at the London School of Economics and Lancaster University, UK. Her research interests are in the areas of organizational change and learning, space and materiality, process theory and members' methods.
Nathalie Mitev is an Associate Professor at the King's College London, UK; she has held prior positions at Salford University in Manchester and City University Business School in London, UK. Her research focuses on the organizational aspects of information systems and technology, particularly from a sociological and political perspective. She has published critical work in leading journals in management studies and information systems.
Lucas D. Introna is Professor of Technology, Organisation and Ethics at the Centre for the Study of Technology and Organisation, Lancaster University, UK. His research interest is the social study of technology and its consequences for the collective. In particular he is concerned with the ethics and politics of technology. He has published papers in leading journals on a variety of topics such as: sociomateriality, phenomenology of technology, information and power, privacy, surveillance and post-modern ethics.