“Charismatizing the Routine: Storytelling for Meaning and Agency in the Burning Man Organization” now available online at Qualitative Sociology

One of my papers on storytelling and Burning Man is now available online at the peer-reviewed journal Qualitative Sociology. The print version of this article is forthcoming, and hopefully my photo of activities at Burning Man will be on the cover of that issue!

Charismatizing the Routine: Storytelling for Meaning and Agency in the Burning Man Organization

Katherine K. Chen

Qualitative Sociology, Online First™, 6 June 2012

Expanding organizations face the routinization of charisma dilemma in which rationalization, or everyday organizing activities, drains meaning and depresses agency. Using an ethnographic study of the organization behind the annual Burning Man event, I show how storytelling can combat disenchantment by promoting consideration of agency and meaning-making. This research demonstrates how storytelling infuses organizational rationality with meaning and agency, thereby “charismatizing the routine.” Through storytelling, people can derive meaning from even the most mundane routines and inspire listeners to imagine possibilities not covered by rules or conventions. Stories also stave off bureaucratic ritualism by clarifying the boundaries between appropriate and inappropriate activities, encouraging a range of actions over coercive restrictions.

Keywords Charisma – Charismatizing the routine – Meaning – Organization – Storytelling

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