From boat to bags: The role of material chronotopes in adaptive sensemaking
In following a material turn in communications, this paper explores how adaptive sensemaking in an extreme context is materially framed and reframed through both time and space. By drawing upon an ethnographic study of the Darwin Expedition, the paper examines in finegrained detail what Weick (1993) would call a "cosmology episode": during Days 9 and 10 of this expedition, climbers felt that their universe was no longer rational or ordered. A discursive analysis reveals that the "boat" and "bags" had become two central "material chronotopes", through which meaning-making was being collectively reframed once the sense had collapsed. This work assesses the accounts surrounding both objects and moreover explains their roles in prompting the expedition team to reframe core meanings and enact a radical shift in sensemaking. The conclusion discusses the contribution of chronotopes in frame-shifting and the importance of focusing on the central objects structuring the collective sensemaking process in order to yield a better understanding of the role of materiality in an extreme context.
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