The Sociomaterial Negotiation of Social Entrepreneurs’ Meaningful Work

30 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2019

See all articles by Gillian Symon

Gillian Symon

University of London - Management

Rebecca Whiting

University of London - Birkbeck College

Date Written: May 2019

Abstract

This research examines the role of digital technology in the constitution of meaningful work. Adopting a sociomaterial perspective, we argue that meaningful work emerges as an outcome of a complex negotiation between individuals and their digital devices. This process was explored through video diaries and interviews with social entrepreneurs, capturing moments of their everyday meaning‐making and encouraging reflexivity. Accounting for their sociomaterial practice led participants to reaffirm their work as uniquely meaningful, produce more nuanced accounts of meaningfulness and/or make pragmatic adjustments to their meaning making. Whilst authenticity was a key meta‐narrative in these accounts, it also produced tensional knots which, in their unravelling, required the adoption of more practicable meanings of work. The paper concludes by urging scholars to de‐centre the human from their analysis to provide a more complete account of meaningful work.

Keywords: digital technology, meaningful work, narrative, social entrepreneurs, sociomateriality, tensions

Suggested Citation

Symon, Gillian and Whiting, Rebecca, The Sociomaterial Negotiation of Social Entrepreneurs’ Meaningful Work (May 2019). Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 56, Issue 3, pp. 655-684, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3368464 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joms.12421

Gillian Symon (Contact Author)

University of London - Management ( email )

London, WC1E 7HX
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/manop/orgpsychology/staff/symon/symon.shtml

Rebecca Whiting

University of London - Birkbeck College

Malet Street
London, WC1E 7HX
United Kingdom

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