Formalizing organizational meaning

Sage Publications Ltd.
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Discourse & Society, 1999, 10 (1), pp. 49 - 65
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Formality indexes interactional closure: it limits the possibilities for the renegotiation of agreements and decisions. In this article the focus is on how formality is constructed in organizational settings. The article proposes that organizational formalization is achieved on the strength of the recontextualization of meaning from one discourse or practice to another. Importantly, organizational processes of recontextualization tend to increasingly technologize meanings with respect to both what they signify and their materialization. This means that discursive practices will mobilize, aside from human or embodied modes of meaning making, increasingly disembodied or exosomatic modes of meaning making, such as electronic kinds of communication, as well as other kinds of inscription of meaning (infrastructure, architecture, and so on).
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