Knowing work - Cultivating a practice-based epistemology of knowledge in organization studies

Jens Rennstam, Karen Ashcraft

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31 Citations (SciVal)


While knowledge theorists urge attention to knowing in practice, two common habits in the empirical literature, which we call knowledge inherency and skepticism, function to re-center certain practitioners. The sites in which we study knowing thereby remain limited, hindering a fuller practice turn. We argue that this enduring tendency is problematic because it inhibits our understanding of ‘communicative knowledge’—a form of knowing central to the contemporary economy. Yet communicative knowledge is persistently relegated to secondary status through a logic that is simultaneously gendered and classed. We thus suggest a more thorough shift toward the study of ‘knowledge in work’ (Thompson et al, 2001), wherein such a priori associations are suspended, and all practitioners de-centered, in the interest of understanding specific forms, systems, and relations of knowledge entailed in situated practices of knowing. The second half of the paper develops specific empirical strategies for doing so. The strategies are meant to enable grounded analysis of knowing practices in various lines of work to interrogate how these may be different to practices we are more familiar with, as well as inquiry into similarities between these familiar practices and new ones in order to destabilize the link between knowledge and certain practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-25
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Business Administration


  • class
  • communicative knowledge
  • gender
  • knowing
  • knowledge work
  • practice


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