Communicating moral legitimacy through socio-material practices

Reuber, B. and Morgan-Thomas, A. (2014) Communicating moral legitimacy through socio-material practices. In: 3rd Interdisciplinary Market Studies Workshop (IMSW 2014), Provence, France, 5-6 Jun 2014,

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In this article, we address the research question: How do organizations in such contexts communicate moral legitimacy online? Given the lack of prior organization-level research in this context, we draw on an inductive, qualitative study of ten organizations that trade in human tissues and focus on how they communicate publicly to heterogeneous audiences via their website. We focus on websites because of their ubiquity and importance in international visibility. We believe that a sociomaterial perspective to the analysis is appropriate in two different ways. First, the key moral objections to the trade in human tissue, obtaining donor consent and profiteering from the commoditization of human body parts, stem from the physical humanness of the tissue and deeply ingrained symbolic and socio-cultural meanings associated with body parts, death and transplantation (Hoeyer, 2008; Scheper-Hughes, 2000; Sharp, 2000). For these reasons, although trade in human tissue and tissue products is legal, the sector is subject to ongoing moral contestation (Anteby, 2010). Thus, to paraphrase Barad (2003), matter is likely to matter in the legitimating accounts we examine. Second, websites, the communication genre (cf. Yates and Orlikowski, 1992) on which we focus, encompass both discursive content and material affordances. As non-humans objects, websites play agential role in the process of organizing (Ashcraft et al., 2009; Cooren, 2004) and offer an opportunity for a detailed analysis of how discourse and materiality are “co-implicated and co-constituted” (Cooren et al. 2011: 1153) in rendering organizations legitimate. We conceptualize websites as “market devices:” “material and discursive assemblages that intervene in the construction of markets” (Muniesa et al., 2007: 2) and analyze the data using actor-network theory (Callon, 1986; Latour, 2005).

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Morgan-Thomas, Professor Anna and Reuber, Professor Becky
Authors: Reuber, B., and Morgan-Thomas, A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
College of Social Sciences

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