Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 37–50 | Cite as

The Anthropology of Empty Spaces

  • Jerzy Kociatkiewicz
  • Monika Kostera


We would like to tell an anthropologic story about how we see reality and how we feel about it, with no intention to generalize our reflections. Our version of anthropology is intentionally self-reflexive and self-reflective. This text is a narrative study of the feelings of anthropologists out in the field. The anthropologic frame of mind is a certain openness of the mind of the researcher/observer of social reality (Czarniawska-Joerges 1992). On the one hand, it means the openness to new realities and meanings, and on the other, a constant need to problematize, a refusal to take anything for granted, to treat things as obvious and familiar. The researcher makes use of her or his curiosity, the ability to be surprised by what she or he observes, even if it is “just” the everyday world. Our explorations concern an experience of space. It aims at investigating the space not belonging to anyone. While “anthropologically” moving around different organizations, we suddenly realized that we were part of stories of the space we were moving in. Areas of poetic emptiness can be experienced, often in the physical sense, on the boundaries and inside of organizations.

anthropology space feelings stories sensemaking 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Burszta, W. (Ed.) (1996). Antropologiczne wêdrówki po kulturze, (Anthropologic wanderings through culture.) Poznañ: Humaniora.Google Scholar
  3. De Certeau, M. (1975). L'écriture de l'histoire. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  4. De Certeau, M. (1984/1988). The practice of everyday life. Translated by S. Rendell. Los Angeles-London: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  5. Corvellec, H. (1997). Stories of achievements: Narrative features of organizational performance. New Brunswick-London: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Czarniawska-Joerges, B. (1992). Exploring complex organizations: A cultural perspective. Newbury Park-London-New Dehli: Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Czarniawska-Joerges, B. (1995). Zarzdzanie Warszaw w latach 1990-tych: Studium w terenie. (Managing Warsaw: A field study.) Lund: Lund University (work in progress).Google Scholar
  8. Czarniawska, B. (1997). Narrating the organization: Dramas of institutional identity. Chicago-London: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Deleuze, G. and F. Guattari (1986) Nomadology: The war machine. Translated by B. Massumi. New York: Semiotext(e).Google Scholar
  10. Deleuze, G. and F. Guattari (1988/1996). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. London: Althone PressGoogle Scholar
  11. Durkheim, E. (1960). De la division de travail social. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.Google Scholar
  12. Durkheim, E. (1960/1964). Sociology and its scientific field. In: K. H. Wolff (Ed.). Essays on sociology and philosophy. (pp. 354-375). New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  13. Eco, U. (1986/1987). Travels in hyperreality. London: Pan Books.Google Scholar
  14. Feyerabend, P. (1975/1994). Against method. London-New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  15. Feyerabend, P. (1987/1994). Farewell to reason. London-New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  16. Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic BooksGoogle Scholar
  17. Harvey, D. (1990/1994). The condition of postmodernity: An enquiry into the origins of cultural change. Cambridge MA-Oxford UK: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  18. Höpfl, H. (1995). Organizational rhetoric and the threat of ambivalence. Studies in Cultures, Organizations and Societies, 1/2, 175-187.Google Scholar
  19. Kostera, M. (1997). Personal performatives: Collecting poetical definitions of management. Organization 4/3, pp. 345-353.Google Scholar
  20. Kuhn, T. S. (1964/1970). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago, Il: Chicago U.P.Google Scholar
  21. Latour, B. (1992). Technology is society made durable. In: J. Law (Ed.) A sociology of monsters: Essays on power, technology and domination. (pp. 103-131). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Latour, B. & Woolgar, S. (1979/1986). Laboratory life: The construction of scientific facts. Princeton: Princeton U.P.Google Scholar
  23. Lyotard, J. F. (1979/1987). The postmodern condition: A report on knowledge. Manchester U.P.Google Scholar
  24. Rorty, R. (1980/1994). Filozofia a zwierciadlo natury. (Philosophy and the mirror of nature.) Warszawa: Spacja.Google Scholar
  25. Schütz, A. (1967). The phenomenology of the social world. Evanston: Northwestern U.P.Google Scholar
  26. Schütz, A. (1982). Life forms and meaning structure. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  27. Van Maanen, J. (1988). Tales of the field: On writing ethnography. Chicago-London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  28. Van Maanen, J. (1995). An end to innocence: The ethnography of ethnography. In: J. Van Maanen (Ed.) Representation in ethnography (pp. 1-35). Thousand Oaks-London-New Delhi: Sage.Google Scholar
  29. Weick, K. E. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations. Thousand Oaks-London-New Delhi: Sage.Google Scholar
  30. Wright, S. (Ed.) (1994). Anthropology of organizations. London-New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerzy Kociatkiewicz
    • 1
  • Monika Kostera
    • 2
  1. 1.Warsaw UniversityWarszawaPoland
  2. 2.Warsaw University and The Academy of Entrepreneurship and ManagementWarszawaPoland

Personalised recommendations