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School of Business and Management

Normativity Workshop: Contemporary norms: Normativities, organizations and society

23 March 2018

Time: 9:45am - 1:30pm
Venue: Bancroft Building, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Campus, E1 4NS

Facilitator: Nelarine Cornelius, Professor of Organisation Studies, Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL)

Convenor : Eric Pezet, Professor of HRM and Organisation Theory, Université Paris Nanterre and Paris Research in Norms Management and Law (


How and why do organisational, institutional and societal norms change over time and what are the consequences of these changes?  

In this workshop, we will explore these questions from a range of theoretical perspectives (Douglas, Bourdieu, Foucault and Butler).  More specifically we will consider the impact of the dynamics of norms on the policy and practice in the areas of public management, law, society, governance and the intersections between them.

The workshop will be of interest in particular to academic staff and doctoral students, and our aim is to attract about 35 attendees.


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  • 9:45 Registration, Morning Coffee
  • 10:15 Short Introduction to the Event and the Panel – Nelarine Cornelius, QMUL
  • 10:30 Opening Comments on Normativity– Eric Pezet (Paris 10)
  • 10:50 Presentations 1 and 2
  • 11:30 Short Break
  • 11;50 Presentations 3, 4 and 5
  • 12:45 Commentary – Eric Pezet and Nelarine Cornelius
  • 13:00 Panel Discussion and Audience Q and A
  • 13:25 Final Comments
  • 13:30 Lunch and Networking


  • Perri 6, Professor of Public Management, QMUL
  • Nelarine Cornelius, Professor of Organisation Studies, QMUL
  • Mustafa Ozturk, Lecturer in Management, QMUL
  • Eric Pezet, Professor of HRM and Organisational Theory, Université Paris Nanterre
  • Martha Prevezer, Reader in Governance and Strategy, QMUL
  • Ahu Tatli, Professor of International HRM, QMUL
  • Min Yan, Lecturer in Business Law, QMUL



 1. Elementary forms and their norms: a neo-Durkheimian institutional account of falling and rising force of norms

Perri 6, Professor of Public Management, QMUL

The Durkheimian tradition resynthesised by Mary Douglas argues that norms are driven by conflictual interdependence among a few enduring elementary forms of social organisation. Each elementary form cultivates in people peculiar substantive norms, styles of using norms, ways of managing things found to be anomalous within a norm’s categories. Feedback dynamics within and among these elementary forms produce constant change. This presentation will present a Douglasian explanation for the waxing and waning force of norms, illustrating the argument using both micro-level studies of organisations within government from public management and macro-level studies on changing economic institutions from political economy.

 2. Corporate norms in the relationship between firms and the law in the UK

Martha Prevezer, Reader in Governance and Strategy and Min Yan, Lecturer in Business Law, QMUL

This presentation uses Douglasian theory (6 and Richards 2017) to explore the link between corporate norms or ‘culture’ and the law in the UK. How does the legal and regulatory framework in the UK influence the thought-styles of companies? How are attitudes to risk and compliance shaped by different thought-styles? How do firms see different functions of law – as restraining, as enabling? We use a survey of large FTSE 350 firms by Independent Audit on corporate culture to pose these questions.

3. Foucault’s philosophy of dispositive and the possibility of assembling normativities in public and private organizations.

Eric Pezet, Professor of HRM and Organisational Theory, Université Paris Nanterre

 The current multiplication of standards has the effect of creating a context of internormativity. In the public sector as well as in private sector, neoliberal doctrine favours this internormativity which results in the coexistence of norms that are potentially competing. Inspired by the philosopher of sciences Georges Canguilhem, Foucault has developed an approach to normativity that allows for the possibility of organizational government, very different from hierarchy. The Foucaudian philosophy of the dispositive (a dispositive is a way to inform collective and individual experience links different levels of analysis:  the macro and the micro, the institutional and the local. Foucault's philosophy of the dispositive provides the basics of a research method on the governance of organizations in highly “internormative times”.

4. A Bourdieusian approach to normativity and the limits of organisational change

Ahu Tatli, Professor of International HRM, QMUL

In this presentation, I will explore how we can conceptualise normativity using Bourdieusian lens and then use the concept to understand the conditions of possibility and limits of organisational change. In this Bourdieusian engagement with the phenomenon of normativity, concepts including the doxa, field, illusio and habitus will aid first to define normativity and second to offer ways of interrogating how, when and which normativities change, die or persist in organisations.

5. Normativity and the operation of norms is social life: a Butlerian perspective

Mustafa Ozturk, Lecturer in Management, QMUL

There is a strong link between normativity and subjectivity which works itself through Judith Butler’s entire theoretical oeuvre. In this talk, I will explore the precise coordinates of Butler’s position on the operation of norms in social life. The three broad aims of the talk will be to: 1) understand Butler’s ontology of the subject, which is constituted iteratively over time through the continuing action of norms; 2) explore how normative regulation draws and continually enforces the boundaries of liveable, intelligible lives in particular social contexts; and 3) assess the conditions of possibility for change in the iterative operation of norms in order to interrogate Butler’s call for a nonviolent ethics in social (and organised) life.





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