'That miracle of familiar organizational things': Social and moral order in the MBA classroom

Sage Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Organization Studies, 2008, 29 (5), pp. 733 - 761
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Garfinkels work over the last five decades has created an alternate view of organizational phenomena which has been understood only at the margins of organization studies. His approach is profoundly empirical yet it is not positivist. He does not deny the reality of things but argues that their appearance as objects on any particular occasion is socially constructed. He shows us familiar organizational things in an unfamiliar way: organized phenomena of order in practical detail. This paper specifically examines the moral dimension of Garfinkels approach. When Garfinkel says that members make settings accountable, i.e. `observable and reportable, he means accountable rationally and morally. To explicate this point, the paper examines data from a study of an executive MBA classroom in a way that builds on Macbeths (2003) ethnomethodological study and examines the way in which the social organization of vernacular talk and interaction in the classroom is simultaneously moral organization. Moral order and social order are shown to be inseparably intertwined in and as the practical details of classroom interaction. Endogenously organized sequences of interaction and vernacular discourse accomplish the emergent socio-moral order of the class; a background texture of relevances which becomes a resource within which members shared understandings progress.
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