Workshop on Words and Things

The two-day ICRODSC workshop, Words and Things, was held at the University of Sydney Business School and  covered various aspects of discourse and materiality.

The keynote address on the first day of the workshop Discourse in a Material World was presented by University of Melbourne's Laureate Professor Cynthia Hardy. Professor Hardy's presentation examined the extent to which a discursive perspective can contribute to our understanding of the material.

This was followed by presentations by Kanti Pertiwi, who talked about media constructions of corruption in Indonesia, and Max Baker and Jane Andrew, who used an analysis of the Chevron Oil Company to highlight issues associated with ensuring disclosure and global accountability by international corporates.

Sense-making and learning from bushfires in Victoria was the topic of discussion by Graham Dwyer, followed by a presentation by Leanne Cutcher (University of Sydney) on work carried out in collaboration with Teresa Davis and Tilly Milroy on the Stolen Wages Commissions. Through the personal account of one of the claimants, Prof Cutcher's presentation highlighted what it means to indigenous women to be required to 'give an account of oneself'.

Academics Gibson Burrell and Karen Dale acted as discussants for the papers presented on the first day of the workshop, which concluded with a buddying session between academics and current PhD students.

The keynote address for the second day of the workshop was presented by Lancaster University's Karen Dale,  who asked participants to question how the human body had been predominantly understood in western cultures and how these understandings might then be able to be re-imagined and re-embodied in the ways that we live in and with the world.

Catherine Hardy talked about making continuous assurance matter in a world where the boundary between the social and the material is ambiguous and Stephanie Dunk presented a discursive analysis of a strategic planning process in a university setting, providing insights into the way that words are used to signal the initiation of a strategic episode, shape its conduct and flag the episode's termination.

The final presentation was by Kat Riach, using her research on smell at work to highlight increasing researcher awareness of sensorial and affective aspects of working life. Helpful insights were provided to these presenters by discussants Cynthia Hardy (University of Melbourne) and John Roberts (University of Sydney).


Seminar on Agency

Professor Annette Davies presented her work on 'Claiming Agency: Subjectivation Practices in a Police/Community Meeting'. The presentation drew on Foucauldian thinking on discourse, power and subjectivity to develop the concept of non-humanist agency and demonstrate how agency is expressed through the practice of subjectivation.

The presentation examined real-time interactions between the police, other public service officials, and local residents in a public meeting to show empirical support for the concept of a non-humanist agency and to illustrate how this is practiced through the deployment of subject positions within a discursive field.

The presentation also illustrated how choices and interests are articulated through manouvering between discourses, as well as the agential effects of assuming certain forms of subjectivity. Unlike conventional accounts of agency, which present a limited understanding of the operation of power on individual actions and interests, this approach foregrounds subjects who are adept at manouvering through the fields of discursive possibilities open to them.


Workshop on Age and Identities

This ICRODSC workshop on age and identities covered various aspects of aged and aging identities.

Academics Gavin Jack and Emily Bariola (Latrobe University), together with Kat Riach (Monash University), presented findings from their exploratory study of women, work and the menopause. Susan Ainsworth (University of Melbourne) talked about the discourses used in connection with recent moves in Australia to raise the pension age.

Belinda Allen (Monash University) presented her study on identity construction in aged care homes, while Barbara Foweraker (Sydney University) talked about her work on 'selling age' in a pharmaceutical company that hires predominantly older sales representatives.  Leanne Cutcher (Sydney University) and Cynthia Hardy (University of Melbourne) compared the identity work of older and younger employees in two divisions of a global engineering firm.

Two overseas experts on age and identities acted as discussants for the five papers that were presented, Steve Fineman (Professor Emeritus at Bath University, England) and Robyn Thomas (Professor at Cardiff Business School, Wales), and provided a number of helpful insights to the presenters about their papers.