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Sociomaterial practice and the constitutive entanglement of social and material resources: The case of construction work

Alexander Styhre (Department of Business Administration, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)

VINE

ISSN: 0305-5728

Article publication date: 15 November 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The concept of sociomaterial practice has been proposed as a term including materiality as constitutive elements in any social practice. The concept also suggests that while social relations are constituted by and mediated by materiality, materiality per se is enacted in a social context. Practice is thus unfolding as a form of constitutive entanglement of social and material resources at hand. The paper aims at discussing the concept of practice as what is mobilizing both material and intangible resources.

Design/methodology/approach

The study draws on interviews with construction workers, foremen, and site managers in three projects in a medium sized construction company.

Findings

The study suggests that while construction work is both regulated by piece‐rate wage systems and being largely composed of standard operation procedures, there is still a strong reliance on collectively accomplished routines for communicating and interacting in the workplace. Rather than being determined by and reducible to material conditions, social relations and mutual trust play a key role in construction projects.

Originality/value

The concept of sociomaterial practice is opening up for a more articulated recognition of the entanglement of social and material resources in organizing work. The study presents first‐hand data on how construction work rests on the collective capacity to combine both material and social elements.

Keywords

Citation

Styhre, A. (2011), "Sociomaterial practice and the constitutive entanglement of social and material resources: The case of construction work", VINE, Vol. 41 No. 4, pp. 384-400. https://doi.org/10.1108/03055721111188502

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited