Sub-theme 10: [SWG] Shock and Surprise: Responses to the Unexpected, the Deviant and the Stigmatized in Social Life

Bryant A. Hudson
IESEG School of Management, France
Madeline Toubiana
University of Alberta School of Business, Canada
Paul Tracey
Cambridge Judge Business School, United Kingdom

Call for Papers

Organizations breaking with social and institutional norms can surprise and even shock audiences, provoking strong positive or negative emotional reactions (Toubiana & Zietsma, 2017; Creed et al., 2014; Voronov & Vince, 2012). Societies typically punish organizational deviance and transgression by stigmatizing and sanctioning the organization and its members. As a result, organizational stigma, and other negative social evaluations, have emerged as an important topic in organizational theory. Stigma, which is a discrediting perception held by some evaluative audience, is often linked to the feelings it engenders on the part of both stigmatizers and those stigmatized (Goffman, 1963).
However, stigmatized organizations and members do not always accept the attempts to be shamed (Creed et al., 2014), and these attempts may prompt them to resist and transform the social and institutional arrangements that relegate them with this inferior status. In this way, deviance can be the genesis of social transformation. Many products and services that are now accepted were once seen as deviant, and their proponents stigmatized (Hampel & Tracey, 2016). Yet in our continued efforts to better understand the nature of stigma (Devers et al., 2009; Hudson, 2008) and responses to it (Hampel & Tracey, 2016; Helms & Patterson, 2013; Hudson & Okhuysen, 2009), the role of emotions in these dynamics has been neglected.
This sub-theme invites scholarly discussion on the ways in which emotions and deviance interact to impact varied organizational and institutional dynamics, and the ways in which emotional work may be related to efforts at managing stigma. We focus specifically on the social and collective emotional responses and motivations that underlie and drive collective action, organizational responses, and institutional recreations and reconfigurations as a result of the deviant, unexpected or stigmatized.
The following are examples of questions that this subtheme will explore:

  • Given the strong tendency of emotions to facilitate the ongoing reproduction of social order (Stavrakakis, 2008), how do the emotional connections get disrupted and lead to deviance?

  • What are the emotional mechanisms that underpin stigmatization, and what causes stigmatization to strengthen or erode?

  • How do social emotions inform and motivate sensemaking and action in response to perceptions of dirty work?

  • What role do social and collective emotions play in both the spread of and reaction to stigma?

  • How does the rejection or embracement of negative social evaluations and collective social emotions motivate collective action that transforms deviance into positive social innovations?

  • How is emotion implicated in positive identity construction - both at the individual level and the organizational or collective level? Specifically, how might studying emotion enhance our understanding of dirty work?

  • How do negative social emotional responses such as despair, rage, indignation, and resentment due to stigmatization and marginalization lead to empowerment, institutional work, and social innovation?



  • Creed, W.E.D., Hudson, B.A., Okhuysen, G.A., & Smith-Crowe, K. (2014). “Swimming in a sea of shame: incorporating emotion into explanations of institutional reproduction and change.” Academy of Management Review, 39 (3), 275–301.
  • Devers, C.E., Dewett, T., Mishina, Y., & Belsito, C.A. (2009): “A general theory of organizational stigma.” Organization Science, 20, 154–171.
  • Goffman, E. (1963): Stigma: Notes of the Management of Spoiled Identity. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Hampel, C.E., & Tracey, P. (2016): “How organizations move from stigma to legitimacy: The case of Cook's travel agency in Victorian Britain.” Academy of Management Journal, published online before print April 18, 2016, doi: 10.5465/amj.2015.0365.
  • Helms, W., & Patterson, K. (2013): “Eliciting acceptance for 'illicit' organizations: The positive implications of stigma for MMA organizations.” Academy of Management Journal, 57 (5), 1453–1484.
  • Hudson, B.A. (2008): “Against all odds: A consideration of core-stigmatized organizations.” Academy of Management Review, 33, 252–266.
  • Hudson, B.A., & Okhuysen, G.A. (2009): “Not with a ten-foot pole: Core stigma, stigma transfer, and improbable persistence of men's bathhouses.” Organization Science, 20 (1), 134–153.
  • Stavrakakis, Y. (2008): “Subjectivity and the organized other: Between symbolic authority and fantasmic enjoyment.” Organization Studies, 29 (7), 1037–1059.
  • Toubiana, M., & Zietsma, C. (2017): “The message is on the wall? Emotions, social media and the dynamics of institutional complexity.” Academy of Management Journal, 60 (3), 922–953.
  • Voronov, M., & Vince, R. (2012): “Integrating emotions into the analysis of institutional work.” Academy of Management Review, 37 (1), 58–81.


Bryant A. Hudson is Professor of Management at IESEG School of Management, Paris, France. He studies organizational stigma, shame, scandal, and taboos in a variety of contexts, including gay and lesbian organizations, abortion service providers, and major national industries. His work appears in the ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Organization Science’, Journal of Management Inquiry’, ‘International Studies in Management and Organization’, and ‘Organization’.
Madeline Toubiana is Assistant Professor of Strategic Management and organization at the University of Alberta School of Business, Canada. Her research focuses on the role emotions, complexity and stigmatization play in processes of social change. Madeline is specifically interested in connecting macro-level institutional concepts to the actors inhabiting those institutional spaces. Some of her previous and current work examines this topic in the context of social entrepreneurship, academia, social media, the Canadian prison system and the sex trade. Her research has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Journal of Management History’, ‘Journal of Management Learning’, and the ‘Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly’.
Paul Tracey is Professor of Innovation and Organization and Co-Director of the Centre for Social Innovation at the Cambridge Judge Business School, UK. His research focuses on social innovation, regional innovation, and institutional change, as he has a specific interest in organizational stigma and emotions. Paul’s research has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Journal’, the ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Organization Science’, and the ‘Journal of Marketing’.