Nothing happened, something happened: Silence in a makerspace

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. François-Xavier de Vaujany
of the Université Paris-Dauphine, and Dr. Jeremy Aroles of Durham University Business School. They recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “Nothing happened, something happened: Silence in a makerspace,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the motivations of this research and its significance to the present:]

What motivated you to pursue this research?

Over the course of our research, we had the opportunity to visit a wide range of collaborative spaces located in ten countries. During these visits, we were particularly surprised by the role and importance of silence in these different spaces. The collaborative orientation of these spaces, together with the idea that collaboration is a noisy endeavour, made the prevalence and centrality of silence rather counterintuitive. This prompted us to look more closely into silence and its manifestations. In particular, it seemed that there was more to silence than meets the eye: we began to appreciate how silence is not an emptiness or an absence but rather both a space and process full of potentialities, possibilities for learning and creative endeavours. In our paper, we explore this initial intuition through an ethnographic study of a makerspace located in Paris.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

Silence is a topic that is rarely featured in management and organisational studies. Fewer studies still have investigated silence in a ‘non-coercive context’, that is when silence is not directly forced upon people but rather chosen and actively sought. Our research is an invitation to consider the role of silence in new working configurations, and more precisely, the complex and multifaceted relation between silence and embodied forms of learning. We contend that silence creates the conditions for co-created and embodied learning. It gives visibility to the learning process of the workers and re-centres expression around gestures as well as focused conversations, highlighting how a silence ‘immediately felt’ in a physical space is not necessarily an absence of conversation.

What is the most important/ influential piece of scholarship you’ve read in the last year?

This is a difficult question to answer; in our case, this entailed rediscovering some fundamental texts published some seventy years ago. As our research progressed, our attention revolved increasingly more around the work of the French philosopher Merleau-Ponty. In particular, we rediscovered The Visible and The Invisible as well as Phenomenology of perception. In addition, we found Glen Mazis’ book (Merleau-Ponty and the Face of the World: Silence, Ethics, Imagination, and Poetic Ontology) particularly useful when reading Merleau-Ponty’s work. We discovered, in Merleau-Ponty’s work, a wealth of concepts and sensibilities that are particularly well suited to the study of the ‘new’ world of work. More precisely, his work invites us to rethink our perceptions and experiences through an engagement with the notions of embodiment, flesh and inter-corporeity.

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This entry was posted in Management, Management Theory and tagged , , , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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