Peopling Organizations: The Promise of Classic Symbolic Interactionism for an Inhabited Institutionalism

Tim Hallett*, David Shulman, Gary Alan Fine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

29 Scopus citations


Interactionists have long focused on what goes on within organizations-thus their scholarly importance as researchers of work. However, they have avoided conceptualizing organizations as such until quite recently. Their primary concerns are the relationships among individuals and how people create meanings and social relations. Structures and institutions, while never denied, receive secondary attention. Interactionists have made their most significant advances studying interpersonal realms, not in their investigations of 'institutions' or 'society'. This article argues that the value of the interactionist approach for organizational research exists in its emphasis on how interaction and meaning provide a foundation for thinking about the constitutive role of people in organizations. The 'peopled' perspective of symbolic interaction stands in stark contrast to the 'un-peopled' view that has often characterized organizational sociology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Sociology and Organization Studies
Subtitle of host publicationClassical Foundations
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191577352
ISBN (Print)9780199535231
StatePublished - Sep 2 2009


  • Interactionist approach
  • Organization research
  • Organizational sociology
  • People's roles
  • Social relations
  • Symbolic interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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