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Towards a Multimodal Model of Theorization Processes

Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions

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

Publication date: 30 November 2017


This chapter examines the role of multimodal rhetoric in processes of theorization. Empirically, we investigated the theorization process of a highly disruptive innovation in the history of architecture: reinforced concrete. Relying on archival data from a prominent French architectural journal in the period from 1885 to 1939, we studied the rhetorical modes at play in the theorization of reinforced concrete. First, we found that theorization entailed two recursive activities: dramatization and evaluation. While dramatization relies on both verbal and visual (i.e., multimodal) means, evaluation relies on verbal means. We integrated these components into a dynamic model of theorization that explains how visual discourse contributes to theorization beyond the effects of verbal discourse.




This chapter benefitted greatly from discussions at “The 2nd International Conference on Visuality, Materiality, Multimodality,” held in the Copenhagen Business School on 22–23 September 2016. We also gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Danish Council for Independent Research: DFF-1327-00030.


Cartel, M., Colombero, S. and Boxenbaum, E. (2017), "Towards a Multimodal Model of Theorization Processes", Höllerer, M.A., Daudigeos, T. and Jancsary, D. (Ed.) Multimodality, Meaning, and Institutions (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 54A), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 153-182.



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