The role of nonhuman entities in institutional work: the case of the ocean in a surfing-centered local economy
This article examines the role played by a nonhuman entity, the Atlantic Ocean, in institutional work. It uses the results of an in-depth case study concerning the local economy of a surfing-focused seaside town in the south-west of France, where relations with the ocean have been modified by institutional work facilitated by extreme coastal erosion during winter storms in 2013-2014. This work, performed by the actors of the local economy – which include the ocean – aims to change the institutions of surfing, and local planning in a coastal town, by acting to influence the relation between this local economy and the ocean. The study involves a qualitative analysis of 32 interviews with stakeholders in the local surfing industry to identify the role played by a nonhuman entity in deliberate action to influence institutions. Mobilization of the theoretical framework of the anthropologist Philippe Descola concerning the types of relations between humans and nonhumans leads to 1) the suggestion that the nonhuman agency of natural elements should be included in consideration of institutional work, and 2) a reconsideration of the relational influence of the material dimension in organization and management theory.
Copyright (c) 2019 Benjamin Taupin
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