We have always been modern(ist)

Gasparin, M. and Neyland, D.. 2017. We have always been modern(ist). Organization, ISSN 1350-5084 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In organisation studies, objects have been analysed as actors that enable sense to be made of organisational reality. We expand on this literature by exploring the times of the modernist design firm through its iconic chairs, using archival and contemporary ethnography to study timeless design. We suggest that studies of organisational times that focus on selectivity in organisational memory or history can be augmented through a detailed study of the folding of pasts, presents and futures into objects. Furthermore, we advocate for the treatment of objects as material semiotic actors that participate in the construction of organisational times, with iconic chairs acting as disruptors of otherwise linear organisational times. As material semiotic actors, these objects do not enable a single organisational time, but instead participate in disrupting time, deny any possibility of a pure
and linear form of time, continuing to provoke the organisation and its members.

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Daniel Neyland’s contribution to this paper was funded by the European Research Council, grant no. 313173.
We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their suggestions in developing the paper.


Design, neo materialism, organisation theory, prototype, science technology studies, temporalities, timeless

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16 November 2017Published
16 November 2017Accepted

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Date Deposited:

17 Jan 2018 15:57

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:43

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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