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Objectal resistance: The political role of personal objects in workers? resistance to spatial change

Taskin, Laurent, Courpasson, David ORCID: and Donis, Céline 2023. Objectal resistance: The political role of personal objects in workers? resistance to spatial change. Human Relations 76 (5) , pp. 715-745. 10.1177/00187267211067142

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Flexwork, that is, the combination of shared offices and telework, is one of the major changes affecting the workplace these days. But how do employees react to these transformations of their work environment? In this article, we investigate employees’ resistance to the introduction of flexwork in a large Belgian organization. We show employees resisting this workspace transformation through the use of personal objects as means to physically reconnect to the place, using objects to convey their claims and objectively occupy places. Though space has become a key analytic concept in the study of organizations, research still largely neglects the concrete role played by personal objects in the capacity of workers to resist change in the occupation of workspaces. We highlight the mutual constitution of objects and space in practices of resistance to workspace change. We show specifically how the politicality of these materials – referred to here as objectal resistance – comes from the meaning that people assign to objects when they place them in order to re-establish workers’ bodily presence at work – that is, from acts of objects embodiment and emplacement. We contribute to studies of resistance in the workplace by showing that objectal resistance is a complex combination of overt and covert activities, which leads to seeing the classic opposition between recognition and post-recognition politics in a new light.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0018-7267
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 7 December 2021
Last Modified: 09 May 2023 12:38

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