"The problem of photography": the spatiality of photographs in organizational ethnography

Lucas, Mike and Wright, Alex (2018). "The problem of photography": the spatiality of photographs in organizational ethnography. In: Academy of Management Annual Meeting, 9-14 Aug 2018, Chicago, USA.

Abstract

The use of photography in organization studies has increased rapidly in recent years. Yet, this increase in use has not been accompanied by a critical consideration of the ontological and epistemological implications of photographs as data. This article addresses this and theorizes the use of photography in organization studies. Recognizing recent attempts to prompt theoretically informed visual research (Bell & Davison, 2013; Meyer, Hollerer, Jancsary & Van Leeuwen, 2013; Ray & Smith, 2012; Shortt & Warren, 2017) we place photographic theory in the foreground by examining elements of Flusser’s (1983) philosophy of photography and its implications for organizational research. This centres on the dialectical relationship between text and image in all communicative action, particularly, on the production of space by organizing groups. We elaborate the key theoretical and methodological implications using existing field studies before moving on to consider the photographic aspects of one of the authors’ own ethnographic field research.

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