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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Concern with the limitations of discourse-focused theories to understand and explain environmental change, the refugee crisis, the lived effects of increasing inequalities and other undoubtedly material experiences have led to a ‘material turn’ in the social sciences, arts and humanities. This chapter explores the implications of this turn for identities theories in management and organization studies. Identities theorists have drawn on materialities as a discursive resource rather than as agentive actors and this chapter illuminates the value of understanding ‘non-sentient’ actors as active agents in the construction of identities. It focuses on the influential work of the theorist Karen Barad, outlining her theoretical approach and exploring how it has been taken up in management and organization studies. The chapter explores some of the mistakes that can easily be made in applying her ideas, but also the value of grasping her work’s complexities. It shows how the approach could expand upon the findings of two studies, one well-established and one recent, and concludes with a discussion of the relevance of new materialism for understanding organizations in the political, economic, social, and cultural conditions of the current epoch.

Keywords: material-identities, new materialism, material objects, performativity, Karen Barad, Arthur Schopenhauer

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