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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Building on the landmark Supreme Court case Dukes v. Wal-Mart (2011), which involved the issue of whether folklore provided evidence of a corporate culture affecting managerial decision making, this chapter addresses the context of organizations and networks that are distinguishable from communities and groups. Following the typology of sociologist Max Weber, organizations and networks are defined by their strategic formation and usually are formalized, in contrast to the fluid nature of communities and groups. Folklorists often avoided analyzing folklore of organizations and the traditional praxis of organizing because of the formalism of organizations and networks, frequently associated with businesses, but this chapter argues that as social entities they rely on folklore internally to create an identity for participants and externally to convey a cultural character. Organizations and networks vary in their use of folklore, often in relation to whether they are “high context” and fostering ritual and narrative or “low context” and therefore less conducive to cultural formation. Historically, organizational folklore and folklife have become more pervasive in American society with the dominance of a service and information economy and an “organizational society” since the late twentieth century. This chapter discusses the similarities and differences in the kinds of folklore and folklife in three major types of organizations and networks: unions and advocacy groups, corporations and businesses, and voluntary organizations and support groups. Research on organizations and networks often has an applied aspect to reform organizations and improve the lives of Americans who necessarily engage them.

Keywords: associations, corporations, folklife, folklore, gender, law, networks, organizations, unions

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