Vocabularies of Organizing: How Language Links Culture, Cognition, and Action in Organizations
48 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2005
Date Written: October 2005
Linking sociological theories of vocabularies and institutions with Neo-Whorfian perspectives from cognitive science, this paper develops a theoretical framework and propositions on how specialized vocabularies structure cognition and action in organizations. We propose that vocabularies of organizing are socially constructed systems of linguistic categories that provide organizational members with cultural systems to classify organizational practices. We identify five principles to capture vocabularies' effects: social construction, embodiment in organizational practices, modularity, theorization, and attentional selectivity. This perspective highlights the interrelationships between words and how cultural systems generate logics of action at the individual level and institutional logics at the macro-social level.
Keywords: Language, cognition, culture, organizing
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