chapter  8
University Y
Pages 41

In this chapter the concept of an ‘organisational field’ (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983, p. 148) is adapted and applied to one department at University Y, illustrating how a discursive structure can have material and social repercussions. This is followed by an account of two lecturers’ collective struggle to overcome resource shortages and timetabling problems at the start of an academic year, resulting in unexpected and exciting pedagogical developments. Finally the chapter ends with an account of the endeavours of a law lecturer and his colleagues, whose pedagogic choices are being curtailed by changes at the university. What might DiMaggio and Powell’s (1983) organisational field, introduced and discussed in Chapter 5, look like at the department level within a university? Drawing upon evidence from three consecutive staff meetings in a particular department, the workings of an organisational field are traced at an institutional level as the university’s new strategic plan is introduced. The development of an organisational field, takes four distinct stages, which can be set out as follows:

Terms: New epistemic categories and terms are articulated in line with a particular ideological position and serve to develop a common aim. Texts: A plethora of new texts and resources are created on the basis of the terms. Each carries its own ideological complex around the common aim. Social Fora: Both texts and terms are used in various social situations to draw people into work around the common ideological position. Procedures: Procedures are set up to consolidate common ways of acting, and structures are developed to enforce or reward such procedures.