chapter  7
19 Pages

The Interpretive Paradigm and the Study of Organisations

WithGibson Burrell, Gareth Morgan

The underlying assumptions of the interpretive paradigm with regard to the ontological status of the social world reject the utility of constructing a social science which focuses upon the analysis of ‘structures’. Strictly speaking, therefore, the notion of there being a theory of organisations characteristic of the interpretive paradigm is somewhat contradictory. The implications of a phenomenological sociology true to the ontological assumptions of the interpretive paradigm are completely destructive as far as contemporary organisation theory is concerned. Phenomenological sociology characteristic of the interpretive paradigm is underwritten by the basic assumption that there is a tendency towards order in social affairs. One of the earliest ethnomethodological critiques of functionalist organisation theory is found in Egon Bittner’s article, ‘The Concept of Organisation’, first published in 1965. The focus of interest of the phenomenological symbolic interactionist differs from that of the ethnomethodologist in the degree of attention devoted to the manner in which social reality is negotiated through interaction.