Why Kurt Wolff matters for a practice-based perspective of sensible knowledge in ethnography

Silvia Gheradi (Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento, Trento, Italy)

Journal of Organizational Ethnography

ISSN: 2046-6749

Publication date: 9 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the contribution offered by Wolff’s sociology of knowledge to organizational ethnography and to enrich the lexicon of practice-based studies with the concept of surrender-and-catch.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on Wolff’s writing, the surrender-and-catch perspective is introduced and how to be inspired by it is illustrated in relation to three working practices.

Findings

The centrality of the body and of sensible knowledge for doing ethnographies of working practices is affirmed and the surrender-and-catch perspective is interpreted as an art of seeing connections.

Practical implications

Surrender-to may be included in the methodology for studying knowing-in-practice and it may help students to get prepared to conduct an organizational ethnography.

Originality/value

A contribution to frame the legacy of a sociologist of knowledge little known in organization studies. Its contribution stresses the importance of a plurality of forms of knowing alongside the rational-analytic one. Therefore Kurt Wolff’s work becomes relevant within the practice-based studies.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Alessandro Cavalli, a colleague and a good friend, who brought Kurt Wolff to the author’s attention while walking on Nervi’s promenade on a Sunday morning. The paper did not receive any external funding.

Citation

Gheradi, S. (2015), "Why Kurt Wolff matters for a practice-based perspective of sensible knowledge in ethnography", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 117-131. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOE-11-2013-0021

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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