Recovering materiality in institutional work : prizes as an assemblage of human and material entities

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Monteiro, Pedro do Nascimento ; Nicolini, Davide (2015)

In this article we utilize a (posthumanist) practice theory orientation to foreground the neglected role of material elements (e.g., objects and spaces) in institutional work. The paper builds on the results of an empirical study of two prizes in the Italian public sector for best practices in public administration and healthcare respectively. Our discussion centres on the critical role played by materiality in the legitimizing work performed by the two prizes. More specifically, we show that humans and material elements share the institutional work of mimicry, theorizing, educating, and reconfiguring normative networks. The article expands and enriches the notion of institutional work by foregrounding its inherent heterogeneous nature. It also shows the capacity of post-humanist and practice oriented approaches to shed new light on fundamental questions regarding the nature of situated action and distributed effort in institutional analysis.
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