Negotiations at all Points? Interaction and Organization

  • Eva Nadai University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland
  • Christoph Maeder University of Teacher Education Thurgau
Keywords: negotiated order, symbolic interaction, organization, performance principle

Abstract

A criticism frequently leveled at interactionism—the theoretical basis of much of qualitative research—is that it neglects social structure and is limited to micro-social analysis. Anselm STRAUSS' concept of "negotiated order" is an attempt to overcome these alleged weaknesses and to address the connection between interaction and structure, and between micro-, meso- and macro-level analysis. In his view, negotiations between units of any potential scale, from small groups to nation states, are at the heart of social order and social change. The concept of "negotiated order" has been particularly influential in organization studies. However, it has also met with criticism. In this paper, we explore the potential of the approach for connecting different levels of analysis in qualitative research. We use the example of negotiations on "performance" in businesses to discuss the relationship between micro-level negotiations and organizations and societal discourse respectively. The empirical data were collected in an ethnographic research project which we conducted in three large businesses in Switzerland. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0801327

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Author Biographies

Eva Nadai, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland
Eva NADAI is a sociologist and professor at the School of Social Work of the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland. Her research interests include the sociology of organization, work and occupations, gender, social politics and social problems, and qualitative methods (especially ethnography). She is currently conducting an ethnographic research project on inter-institutional cooperation between organizations belonging to different segments of the Swiss welfare system such as means tested social assistance, unemployment insurance and invalidity insurance.
Christoph Maeder, University of Teacher Education Thurgau
Christoph MAEDER is a sociologist and professor at the University of Teacher Education Thurgau in Switzerland. He also teaches at the universities of Basel and St. Gallen. His research interests include the sociology of knowledge, sociology of education, social problems, organizational sociology, and in particular ethnographic research methods. He is currently the president of the Swiss Sociological Association and a member of the board of the European Sociological Research Network "Qualitative Methods."
Published
2008-01-31