The logic of play. Implications for institutional theory

Alistair Mutch (2021)

In: Vesa, Mikko (ed.), Organizational Gamification. Theories and Practices of Ludified Work in Late Modernity. London: Routledge.

Extract: “An alternative approach, one which has found a little traction within organizational studies, is the ‘conventions of worth’ approach associated with the French social theorists Boltanski and Thévenot (2006) in their work on justification. This proposes a number of ‘orders of worth’ and has been influential in the French school examining the sociology of conventions (Cloutier & Langley, 2013). They propose a number of such orders of worth or worlds’: these are inspired, domestic, fame, civic, market and industrial. They suggest that each is drawn upon when persons justify their actions, giving them a sense of worth and identity. There are some suggestive elements to this, but there are also critiques to do with the derivation of these orders. For the purpose of this chapter, however, it is sufficient to recognize, as the authors do, that ‘The model of justification we have presented here in its broad outlines does not claim to account for the behavior of actors in any and all situations they may encounter’ (Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006, p. 347). Play is unlikely, given the focus on justifications, to find a place in this list, although their focus on fame is something to which we will return. However, neither of these approaches gives any attention to the meanings that humans attach to their activities through the medium of play.”

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