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A Call For “Strong” Multimodal Research in Institutional Theory

Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions

ISBN: 978-1-78743-330-4, eISBN: 978-1-78743-329-8

ISSN: 0733-558X

Publication date: 30 November 2017


How can we take multimodalities (the discursive, material, spatial, visual, emotional, embodied, etc.) of institutions seriously? In contemplating the implications of the “multimodal turn” (broadly defined) for institutional inquiry and theory, I first situate it within its intellectual current in the social sciences more broadly. I then use three ethnographic vignettes from Israeli high-tech conferences, all centering on “place” (as a – presumably first and foremost – geographical and material reality) to highlight the shortcomings of a “weak” multimodal approach and the promise of a “strong” one. Finally, I suggest ways to capture multiple modalities within an integrated account and discuss the challenges entailed in an institutional inquiry undertaken to acknowledge, and conceptualize, non-linguistic realities.




My thinking in this chapter benefited much from comments made by participants at “The 2nd International conference: Visuality, Materiality, Multimodality” held at the Copenhagen Business School on 22–23 September 2016. Thanks to Gazi Islam, Gregoire Croidieu, and the editors of this volume for their friendly and developmental review of this chapter. Special thanks to Yehuda Goodman for the continuous discussion of the ideas expressed here. Writing was supported by the Recanati Foundation and the Halbert center, both at the School of Business of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Zilber, T.B. (2017), "A Call For “Strong” Multimodal Research in Institutional Theory", Höllerer, M.A., Daudigeos, T. and Jancsary, D. (Ed.) Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 54A), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 63-84.



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