Call for papers

33rd Standing Conference on organisational Symbolism (SCOS)

Conference theme: Home

July 11-14, 2015. Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham , UK

Conference organisers: Dr Néstor Valero-Silva and Dr Scott Lawley, Nottingham Trent University

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Following its home fixture in Utrecht examining sport and play, SCOS is setting up home for 2015 in Nottingham, England, with Home as the theme for our 33rd annual conference.

We tend to think of home and work as being separate. Home is the base from which we begin our commute to work and the sanctuary to which we return after a ‘hard day at the office.’ Home is part of the ‘life’ that we should nurture if we wish to achieve ‘work-life’ balance.  But does such a clear distinction between work and home exist? There has always been work within the home – the unpaid labour of domestic chores, or early ‘backyard’ manufacturing workshops being two examples. There are larger scale organisations, such as prisons, hotels and university campuses, which function at once as workplaces for some and as homes for others. SCOS has a history of extending its purview beyond the ‘factory walls’ and so we invite contributions which address the links, interplays and meanings between work, organisation and home.

Some contributions might address the extension of work into the home. Historically, industrialisation shifted production from the home to the discrete factory workspace, but its pioneers retained an interest in home life, for example with Ford monitoring the moral well-being of workers’ home lives, and with Cadbury and Lever Brothers actually building and owning their workers’ homes.  Computer and mobile networks have made the home once again a workplace through ‘telecommuting’, ‘working from home’ and the ‘home office,’ allowing a return to autonomous cottage industries, and providing flexibility to those who still work for a wage. Alternatively, such technology is intrusive, allowing work a 24/7 presence within the home, through the curse of ‘always-on’ email, or through the ability of employers to monitor home lives through social media.  Such pressures resonate with Grey’s (2005) observation that stress is another area where work extends into the home.

Further contributions might focus on aspects of the home which feature in work and organisational life. Corporate campuses such as the Googleplex bring home comforts to the workplace, elsewhere workers themselves personalise their workspace with reminders of home. Through the body, work and emotions debate, SCOS has previously addressed less tangible aspects of home life which appear in the workplace, for example domestic ‘skills’ being pressed into the service of workplace profit through ‘emotional’ and ‘aesthetic’ labour. Furthermore, organisations replicate such intangible aspects of home life by creating or contributing to an emotional, cultural or affective sense of home, be this a place of comfort and familiarity, or a more insecure and dysfunctional environment. Here, contributions might draw from the vast literatures on organisational culture, on Foucauldian normalisation, or from more recent phenomenological connections between  performativity and  ‘space as a lived space’ (e.g. Tyler & Cohen, 2010), to explore how organisations create identities, loyalties and affinities where people might ‘fit in’ or ‘feel at home’ (Ahmed, 2006).

However, such organisational practices also have the power to cast ‘othered’ identities as alterior and abject, with the subtle exclusionary effects of cultures and group dynamics leaving people simply ‘not feeling at home’ (Hekma, 1988). A final potential area for contributions thus examines links between work and organisation and notions of ‘homelessness’, displacement and escape.  Braidotti’s (2013) work on nomadic subjects, and Hardt and Negri’s (2009) recognition of migration as a powerful form of transgression, suggest areas where homelessness might be viewed as a form of freedom from and creative resistance against dominant social structures. Focussing on workers, the migrant expat worker and the nomadic boundaryless careerist exist far away from original homelands or permanent organisational homes.  Contributions  might further recognise how organisations themselves have become placeless ‘rhizomes’ of shifting data connections (Cubitt, 2001), their main external representation moving from a physical home to a set of ‘placeless practices’ which are connected and co-ordinated through the ‘home page.’

We invite papers that deal with these or any other interpretations around the theme of ‘home’ as it intersects with the study of cultures, organisations and society. Contributions may address the following, but we welcome any creative interpretation of the conference theme that will allow you to bring your own particular ‘home truths’ to the conference proceedings:

  • The relationship and boundary between home and work.
  • Conceptions of home and work domains and related binary distinctions (work/leisure; male/female; rational/emotional; competition/nurturing)
  • Distance from work and commuting; social and geographic mobility in finding work; ex-pats and cross cultural issues
  • The relationship between work and home in popular culture
  • Work within the home – cottage industries, digital ventures, teleworking.
  • Reconfiguring the home space to include workspace – the home office, working from the garden shed or the kitchen table
  • Work-life balance; stress and organisational issues impacting home life; technology bringing work into the home; flexibility arrangements and managing domestic life within work hours
  • Work and management techniques applied to leisure and to manage domestic life (e.g. The Gilbreths and ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’)
  • The home at work – personalising work space; social media bringing home life into work
  • Emotions, nurturing and similar ‘home’ behaviours as part of work and labour; emotional and aesthetic labour; bring your children to work days
  • Gender and sexuality between work and home – unpaid domestic work; the ‘domestic division of labour’; gender stereotypes in the workplace; career, home and work
  • Organisational homes – corporate headquarters, organisations as homes
  • Organisation and home loyalties – familial culture of Japanese organisation; the ‘job-for-life’ vs boundaryless careers
  • Feeling at home – identity, familiarity and habituation in the workplace; cultures creating a sense of belonging; normalising processes; performativity and  ‘space as a lived place’
  • Not feeling at home – being ‘other’; abjection; alteriority; discrimination and exclusion
  • Homelessness – migration, displacement, nomadology and escape; otherness and other spaces as productive, creative and transgressive
  • Organisations as homeless – computer networks and ‘placeless’ organisations; the ‘home page’ as the organisational home; ‘placeless practices’ e.g. open source, virtual organisations

Open stream

An open stream will facilitate presentations of recent developments in research on organisational behaviour, culture and symbolism that do not connect directly to the conference theme. Papers are invited on any aspect of theory, methodology, fieldwork or practice that may be of interest to the SCOS community. If submitting to the open stream, please indicate this clearly on your abstract.

Special symposium on Robin Hood

_39177612_robinhoodstatue2300Hosted by Ann Rippin, SCOS Chair (Home town – Nottingham)

The conference will include a mini symposium on Robin Hood as Nottingham is known, courtesy, perhaps, of Howard Pyle; Walter Scott; Warner Bros. and Walt Disney, as the home of this forest-dweller of note.  The symposium will concentrate on the main theme of home, but may also include:

  • Narratives of place and space in the construction of home
  • The tension between the ‘pure’ and ‘natural’ forest and the wickedness and corruption of the court
  • The outlaw as hero, maverick leaders
  • Corporate governance in the absence of formal authority
  • Robin Hood taxes
  • Local heroes and narratives and marketing cities
  • Homosociability
  • Contested narratives of home, homelands and local legends
  • Robin Hood, popular culture and organisation.

Submission details

We accept submissions at various stages of development, including abstracts, research notes, developmental papers and full papers. Full papers will be peer reviewed if required for your own institutional purposes. For all types of submission, in the first instance an abstract of 500 words maximum should be submitted to by November 21, 2014. If submitting to the Open Stream or Robin Hood symposium, please state this clearly on the abstract.

The conference is supported by the Organising as Practice and Work and Employment research groups within Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University .


Ahmed, S. (2006). Queer phenomenology: Orientations, objects, others. Duke University Press.

Braidotti, R. (2013). Nomadic subjects: Embodiment and sexual difference in contemporary feminist theory. Columbia University Press.

Cubitt, S. (2001). Simulation and social theory. Sage.

Grey, C.  (2005). A very short, fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about studying organizations. London: Sage

Hardt, M., & Negri, A. (2009). Empire. Harvard University Press.

Hekma, G. (1998). “As Long as They Don’t Make an Issue of It…” Gay Men and Lesbians in Organized Sports in the Netherlands. Journal of homosexuality,35(1), 1-23.

Tyler, M., & Cohen, L. (2010). Spaces that matter: Gender performativity and organizational space. Organization Studies31(2), 175-198.