Sub-theme 53: Organizing by and for the Commons: Alternative Values and Affective Intensities

Emmanouela Mandalaki
NEOMA Business School, France
Gazi Islam
Grenoble École de Management, France
Christina Lüthy
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

Call for Papers

In light of globally besetting social, economic and bio-political challenges, such as climate change, a global pandemic, an ongoing refugee crisis, growing inequalities and divisiveness across the globe, the question of how societies can organize for the good life by fostering diverse values, beyond economic ones, such as culture, solidarity, well-being, democracy, sustainability or diversity, has become increasingly pressing. Scholars from different disciplines are revisiting the notion of ‘commons’ and ‘commoning’ (Benkler, 2017; Bollier & Helfrich, 2019; García-López, Lang & Singh, 2021; Mies, 2014; Ostrom, 1992; Singh, 2017; Zanoni et al., 2017) to shed a different light on how we can understand the societal importance and organizational struggle of fostering such forms of value production (De Angelis, 2017; Fournier 2013). They highlight ‘commoning’ as a way to organize resistant, regenerative, reciprocal, and transformative social configurations, emerging in everyday practices that are driven by relational and embodied ethical interactions (Daskalaki, 2018; Mandalaki & Fotaki, 2020). At the same time, researchers agree that processes of commoning are easily ‘co-opted’ in capitalist environments (De Angelis, 2017; Federici, 2019) and often become the loci of subtly entrenched modes of domination and self-exploitation (Picard and Islam, 2020; Resch, Hoyer, & Steyaert, 2021), such that they struggle to maintain their reciprocal spirit (Burø and Koefoed, 2021; Waters-Lynch and Duff, 2021).
Sociomaterial relations and affective intensities seem to be pivotal in shaping and upholding the commitment to the commons (Burø & Koefoed, 2021; Singh, 2017; Waters-Lynch & Duff, 2021). They produce aesthetic experiences, atmospheres and a unique spirit that enfold the organizational process, subjectify and energize people into commoning (Nightingale, 2011), thus fostering new collective sensibilities and ‘pathways of freedom’ (Fotaki, Kenny, & Vachhani, 2017; Pouthier & Sondak, 2019). Simultaneously, the affective dynamics of commoning processes can also entrap people, leaving them feeling used or depleted (Resch & Steyaert, 2020).
Research in alternative organizing highlights that fostering such alternative values implies experimenting with ‘new’, fluid, distributed and often fragile organizational forms (Parker et al., 2014), such as grass-roots initiatives, entrepreneurial networks, open-source communities, hackathons or artistic and political activism (Daskalaki, Fotaki, & Sotiropoulou, 2019; Reinecke, 2018; Lüthy, 2019; Resch & Steyaert, 2020; Endrissat & Islam, 2021). Moreover, commoning is often tied to new and revived organizational spaces such as virtual platforms (Kostakis and Bauwens, 2021), creative hubs (Gill et al., 2019), worker-recuperated companies (Azzellini, 2018), gardens (Burrell & Dale, 2002), or the street (Cnossen, de Vaujany, & Haefliger, 2020). These alternative spaces allow working across and blurring the boundaries between different public, private and civil actors that are entangled in supporting and sustaining the commoning process.
Despite these ongoing discussions, a profound understanding and empirical explorations of how affective intensities, relational practices, collaborative spaces and alternative organizing intra-act, to maintain resourceful communities and thriving commons is yet to be offered. In line with the EGOS Colloquium 2023 general theme, in this sub-theme we are particularly interested in exploring how legacy and imagination might potentiate or hinder the embodied, relational and affective work shaping commoner’s efforts to resist normative social orders and organize for the good life. Moreover, we would like to invite scholars to explore the tensions, ambivalences and conflicts insinuated in navigating and negotiating everyday processes of commoning. We are also interested in investigating experiences of difference and marginalization for which commoning has been documented to provide meaningful answers for literal and symbolic survival (Mandalaki and Fotaki, 2020); and how these might be shaped by legacy and imagination.
With this focus, we invite a variety of conceptual and empirical contributions which study, but are not limited to the below:

  • How does the interplay between legacy and imagination shape commoning processes and enable resistant organizing?

  • How do new forms of organizing navigate and negotiate the tension between transactional and relational forms of value creation?

  • How can commoning processes turn experiences of difference, marginalization, and diversity into a collaborative resource?

  • How are power and politics implicated in the process of commoning and the imagination of alternative forms of value creation?

  • What is the role of sociomateriality and space in commoning processes and distributed forms of organizing?

  • How do embodiment, relationality and affect enable and/or disable the production of alternative values?

  • How do commoners navigate and negotiate the tensions, vulnerabilities and dark sides of the relational work that underpins the organization of alternative values?

  • How do legacy and/or imagination interfere with the ethics of the commons and commoning?

  • (How) can embodied methodologies, including writing differently, contribute to a better unfolding of the affective, embodied and relational processes of commoning?

  • (How) can feminist theory, practice theory, decolonolial perspectives, affect theory, discourse theory and other conceptual critical approaches contribute to a better understanding of commoning processes?



  • Azzellini, D. (2018): “Labour as a Commons: The Example of Worker-Recuperated Companies.” Critical Sociology, 44 (4–5), 763–776.
  • Benkler, Y. (2017): “Peer production, the commons, and the future of the firm.” Strategic Organization, 15 (2), 264–274.
  • Bollier, D., & Helfrich, S. (2019): Free, Fair, and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons. Gabriola Island (British Columbia): New Society Publishers.
  • Burø, T., & Koefoed, O. (2021): “Organising spirit.” Culture and Organization, 27, 171–190.
  • Burrell, G., & Dale, K. (2002): “Utopiary: Utopias, Gardens and Organization.” The Sociological Review, 50 (1 Suppl.), 106–127.
  • Cnossen, B., de Vaujany, F.-X., & Haefliger, S. (2020): “The Street and Organization Studies.” Organization Studies, 42 (8), 1337–1349.
  • Daskalaki, M. (2018): “Alternative organizing in times of crisis: Resistance assemblages and socio-spatial solidarity.” European Urban and Regional Studies, 25, 155–170.
  • Daskalaki, M., Fotaki, M., & Sotiropoulou, I. (2019): “Performing Values Practices and Grassroots Organizing: The Case of Solidarity Economy Initiatives in Greece.” Organization Studies, 40, 1741–1765.
  • De Angelis, M. (2017): Omnia Sunt Communia: On the Commons and the Transformation to Postcapitalism. London: Zed Books.
  • Endrissat, N., & Islam, G. (2022): “Hackathons as Affective Circuits: Technology, organizationality and affect.” Organization Studies, 43 (7), 1019–1047.
  • Federici, S. (2019): Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons. Oakland: PM Press.
  • Fotaki, M., Kenny, K., & Vachhani, S.J. (2017): “Thinking critically about affect in organization studies: Why it matters.” Organization, 24 (1), 3–17.
  • Fournier, V. (2013): “Commoning: on the social organisation of the commons.” M@n@gement, 16 (4), 433–453.
  • García-López, G.A., Lang, U., & Singh, N. (2021): “Commons, Commoning and Co-Becoming: Nurturing Life-in-Common and Post-Capitalist Futures (An Introduction to the Theme Issue).” Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 4 (4), 1199–1216.
  • Gill, R., Pratt, A.C., & Virani, T.E. (eds.) (2019): Creative Hubs in Question: Place, Space and Work in the Creative Economy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Kostakis, V., & Bauwens, M. (2021): “Grammar of Peer Production.” In: M. O’Neil, C. Pentzold & S. Toupin (eds.): The Handbook of Peer Production. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 19–32.
  • Lüthy, C. (2019): “Onto-politics in the making: Exploring the work of ‘Atelier für Sonderaufgaben’.” In: E. Riot, C. Schnugg & E. Raviola (eds.): Art, Politics and Social Movements: In the Fields and in the Streets. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 97–116.
  • Mandalaki, E., & Fotaki, M. (2020): “The Bodies of the Commons: Towards a Relational Embodied Ethics of the Commons.” Journal of Business Ethics, 166, 745–760.
  • Mies, M. (2014): “No commons without a community.” Community Development Journal, 49 (1 suppl), 106–117.
  • Nightingale, A.J. (2011): “Beyond Design Principles: Subjectivity, Emotion, and the (Ir)Rational Commons.” Society & Natural Resources, 24 (2), 119–132.
  • Ostrom, E. (1992): Governing the Commons: The Evolution of institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Parker, M., Cheney, G., Fournier, V., & Land, C. (eds.) (2014): The Routledge Companion to Alternative Irganization. London: Routledge.
  • Picard, H., & Islam, G. (2020): “‘Free to Do What I Want’? Exploring the ambivalent effects of liberating leadership.” Organization Studies, 41 (3), 393–414.
  • Pouthier, V., & Sondak, H. (2021): “When Shame Meets Love: Affective pathways to freedom from injurious bodily norms in the workplace.” Organization Studies, 42 (3), 385–406.
  • Reinecke, J. (2018): “Social Movements and Prefigurative Organizing: Confronting entrenched inequalities in Occupy London.” Organization Studies, 39 (9), 1299–1321.
  • Resch, B., Hoyer, P., & Steyaert, C. (2021): “Affective Control in New Collaborative Work: Communal Fantasies of Purpose, Growth and Belonging.” Organization Studies, 42 (5), 787–809.
  • Resch, B., & Steyaert, C. (2020): “Peer Collaboration as a Relational Practice: Theorizing Affective Oscillation in Radical Democratic Organizing.” Journal of Business Ethics, 164, 715–730.
  • Singh, N. (2017): “Becoming a commoner: The commons as sites for affective socio-nature encounters and co-becomings.” Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organization, 17 (4), 751–776.
  • Waters-Lynch, J., & Duff, C. (2021): “The affective commons of coworking.” Human Relations, 74 (3), 383–404.
  • Zanoni, P., Contu, A., Healy, S., & Mir, R. (2017): “Post-capitalistic politics in the making: The imaginary and praxis of alternative economies.” Organization, 24 (5), 575–588.
Emmanouela Mandalaki is Associate Professor of Organizations at NEOMA Business School, France. Trained in arts and social sciences, in her research, she engages with (auto)ethnographic and qualitative methodologies to explore questions of embodiment, ethics, commoning and the commons, gender, diversity and affect in organizations. Emmanouela’s work appears in international book volumes and internationally recognized academic outlets, such as ‘Journal of Business Ethics’, ‘Organization’, and ‘Gender, Work and Organization’.
Gazi Islam is Professor of People, Organizations and Society at Grenoble Ecole de Management, France, and member of the IREGE Research Laboratory. His current research interests include critical and ethical perspectives in organization studies and the organizational relations between identity, affect, imagination and materiality in new modes of working, leading and collaborating. Gazi’s work has been published in journals such as ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Leadership Quarterly’, ‘Organization’, ‘Human Relations’, ‘The American Journal of Public Health’, ‘Journal of Business Ethic’s, and ‘American Psychologist’.
Christina Lüthy is a post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Organization at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, and a research associate at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. With an interdisciplinary background in cultural theory, social sciences and organization studies, her research is interested in the embodied, affective, temporal and material dimensions of creative organizing, innovating, commoning and social change. Christina draws upon ethnographic methodologies and uses different conceptual approaches, such as non-representational theory, affect theory or practice. Her work has appeared in international book volumes and journals, among others, ‘Entrepreneurship and Regional Development’.