Doing organisational space: practices of voluntary welfare in the city
Environment and Planning A, 35, (11), . (doi:10.1068/a3584).
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In this paper I consider the doing of organisational space. Within a sociopolitical context that presents opportunities and constraints, my interest is in how a particular set of organisational spaces -- those of a voluntary welfare agency -- are brought into being within the city and in how we might best apprehend their experiential texture. Drawing on research undertaken in a community drop-in centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, I explore the utility of two bodies of thought which emphasise social practices for this task. The first of these is actor-network theory. This frames organisation as a relational achievement, rooted in the successful translation of various actors, resources, and other material entities into a network through which an agency is constituted over time. Although an actor-network perspective affords insights into organisational formation and subsequent durability, I argue that it functions less well when one is seeking to apprehend the intersubjective spaces of affect that constitute so much of the daily goings-on of organisational life. As a way of approaching these matters, I turn to a second and related body of work that foregrounds notions of embodied practice. This, I suggest, enables us to attend more fully to the sometimes fleeting immaterial and affective dimensions of organisational space. It helps us, as Thrift (1997) has written, to touch the invisible in the visible.
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