Visual workplace identities

Objects, emotion and resistance

Authored by: Harriet Shortt , Jan Betts , Samantha Warren

The Routledge Companion to Visual Organization

Print publication date:  August  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415783675
eBook ISBN: 9780203725610
Adobe ISBN: 9781135005474


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In this chapter, we present data that show how personal and organizational objects serve important purposes for individuals at work, depending on the degree to which these objects and their meanings are visible to others. We develop empirical themes relating to how workspaces look, drawing on three case studies, demonstrating that the visual dimensions of objects at work – on a continuum from transparent to opaque – are of particular importance in the lived experiences of people at work, organizing relationships between self, other and the organization at large. As such, it is that capacity of objects to symbolize personal and organizational meanings that constitutes the ‘visual organization’ for those who work there. Paying attention to what we do or do not see in organizations allows analysis of the micro-processes that make up organizational life.

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