Subject positions

So, who has what ‘juice’ in a field? And how do they protect their (relative) positions? Who to ally with, who to shun because they will bring you down? What to say,when,how, to who, why? It’s a complicated thing. One way to think on this is via the notion of ‘subject positions’….

First, subject positions include bureaucratic positions, as well as socially constructed and legitimated “categories of identity” (Bourdieu, 1990; Oakes et al., 1998) that “warrant voice” (Potter & Wetherell, 1987). In any discourse, only “a limited number of subject positions are understood as meaningful, legitimate, and powerful” at a given point in time (Hardy, Lawrence, & Grant, 2005: 65). These subject positions provide the actors that occupy them with rights to speak and act (Maguire, Hardy, & Lawrence, 2004) and an increased likelihood that their text production will be consequential by influencing other texts and shaping the discourse (Phillips et al., 2004). Positions are not fixed but “negotiated and created by the maneuvering” of actors; as a result, the ability to influence the field may change over time (Oakes et al., 1998: 260).

(Maguire and Hardy, 2009: 150)

Maguire, S. and Hardy, C. 2009. Discourse and Deinstitutionalization: The Decline of DDT. Academy of Management Journal, Vo. 52, (1), pp.148-178.

See also ‘bodies of knowledge’

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