The "lighthouse" (re: Coase) in new institutionalism is the museum

Per recent discussions of black-boxing and institutionalization, a paper that Fabio and I wrote seems useful to remember. It was a piece we wrote to interrogate the use of “the museum” by new institutionalists of the organizational analysis-bent.

Sociologists that study organizations often analyze the museum from a cultural
perspective that emphasizes the norms of the museum industry and the larger
society. We review this literature and suggest that sociologists should take into
account the technical demands of museums. Drawing on insights from social
studies of technology, we argue that museums are better understood as
organizations that must accomplish legitimate goals with specific technologies.
These technologies impact museums and the broader museum field in at least
three ways: they make specific types of art possible and permit individuals and
organizations to participate in the art world; they allow actors to insert new
practices in museums; and they can stabilize or destabilize museum practices.
We illustrate our arguments with examples drawn from the world of contemporary
art.

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One thought on “The "lighthouse" (re: Coase) in new institutionalism is the museum

  1. <html xmlns:v="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" xmlns:o="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" xmlns:w="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40"&gt; <head> <meta http-equiv=Content-Type content="text/html; charset=us-ascii"> <meta name=Generator content="Microsoft Word 11 (filtered medium)"> <!–[if !mso]> <style> v:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} w:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);} </style> <![endif]–> <style> <!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face
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    {mso-style-type:personal-reply;
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    {page:Section1;} –> </style> </head> <body lang=EN-US link=blue vlink=blue> <div class=Section1> <p class=MsoNormal><font size=3 color=blue face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size:12.0pt;color:blue’>Nicholas and colleagues:<br> Glad to see this conversation continuing.<o:p></o:p></span></font></p> <p class=MsoNormal><font size=3 color=blue face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size:12.0pt;color:blue’></span></font></p> <p class=MsoNormal><font size=3 color=blue face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size:12.0pt;color:blue’>On the museum as the analog to ‘lighthouse’ case for public goods:<o:p></o:p></span></font></p> <p class=MsoNormal><font size=3 color=blue face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size:12.0pt;color:blue’>I do not disagree with your specific claims about museums as social technologies. <o:p></o:p></span></font></p> <p class=MsoNormal><font size=3 color=blue face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size:12.0pt;color:blue’>Another version of this is B Anderson’s postscript to <i><span style=’font-style:italic’>Imagined Communities</span></i>, in the chapter where he describes censuses, maps, etc. as similar kinds of technology, both enabled by institutional arrangements and that provoke/promote certain forms of knowledge and practice.<o:p></o:p></span></font></p> <p class=MsoNormal><font size=3 color=blue face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size:12.0pt;color:blue’></span></font></p> <p class=MsoNormal><font size=3 color=blue face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size:12.0pt;color:blue’>But we need to keep in mind the genesis of those social technologies, and the wider shifts and settlements that make them possible.&nbsp; This for me is the link back to your B&amp;L points, to the recent work by Padgett, Powell, Colyvas and Schneiberg; and as you note, this is keeping the Becker of <i><span style=’font-style:italic’>Art Worlds</span></i> in mind, as well as A Strauss’ earlier papers on legitimating strategies. &nbsp;This focus on how different bounding processes are at work, and how the repertoires of such processes shift over time, seems to be a useful way to unpack the set of issues. &nbsp;I am mindful of some of the earlier comments that point to black-boxing in part as a process of creating module, discrete units, where the process linkages are made invisible and only the apparently ‘separate’ pieces remain.<o:p></o:p></span></font></p> <p class=MsoNormal><font size=3 color=blue face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size:12.0pt;color:blue’></span></font></p> <p class=MsoNormal><font size=3 color=blue face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size:12.0pt;color:blue’>We may also want to keep in focus the design/methods story about institutionalization, that points to not ‘stable, only’ but rather to the processes that erode viable alternatives both in material terms and also in cognitive terms. &nbsp;This touches on the critical debate around the DMP1983 presentation of what become ‘cognitive’ arguments:&nbsp; In their original text, they discussed cognitive isomorphism as relative presence or absence of ‘models’, not simply as a cognitive convergence.<o:p></o:p></span></font></p> <p class=MsoNormal><font size=3 color=blue face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size:12.0pt;color:blue’></span></font></p> <p class=MsoNormal><font size=3 color=blue face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size:12.0pt;color:blue’>Best wishes.<br> MV<o:p></o:p></span></font></p> <p class=MsoNormal><font size=3 color=blue face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size:12.0pt;color:blue’></span></font></p> <div> <div class=MsoNormal align=center style=’text-align:center’><font size=3 face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size:12.0pt’> <hr size=2 width="100%" align=center tabindex=-1> </span></font></div> <p class=MsoNormal><b><font size=2 face=Tahoma><span style=’font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Tahoma;font-weight:bold’>From:</span></font></b><font size=2 face=Tahoma><span style=’font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Tahoma’> Installing Order [mailto:post=installingorder.posterous.com@posterous.com] <b><span style=’font-weight:bold’>On Behalf Of </span></b>Installing (Social) Order<br> <b><span style=’font-weight:bold’>Sent:</span></b> Wednesday, August 03, 2011 7:41 PM<br> <b><span style=’font-weight:bold’>To:</span></b> Marc Ventresca<br> <b><span style=’font-weight:bold’>Subject:</span></b> [installingorder.org] New institutionalism’s &quot;light house&quot; (re: Coase) is the museum</span></font><o:p></o:p></p> </div> <p class=MsoNormal><font size=3 face="Times New Roman"><span style=’font-size: 12.0pt’></span></font></p> <div> <p class=MsoNormal style=’line-height:6.75pt’><font size=1 face=Arial><span style=’font-size:4.5pt;font-family:Arial’></span></p></div></div></body></html>

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