The communicative constitution of academic fields in the digital age: The case of CSR

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Although the digital transformation of knowledge production has put communication front and center in the production and recreation of academic fields, research on scientific communities still mostly promotes an actor-centric or institutionalist understanding of academic fields. This, we argue, points to the need for a digital transformation of our understanding of academic fields, one that does justice to the important role of communication in the production and recreation of academic fields. Therefore, in this paper, we draw on the “communicative constitution of organizations” (CCO) view to explore how academic fields are communicatively constituted. Our GABEK-based discourse analysis focuses on the communicative constitution of the academic field of corporate social responsibility. Our findings illustrate how academic fields are constituted through the enactment of three communicative practices: embedding, diverging, and converging. Furthermore, our results indicate how the communicative constitution of academic fields occurs through the sequential enactment of these practices. Our theoretical framework extends the literatures on scientific communities and CCO by beginning to develop a communication view of academic fields. These ideas also have implications for the digital transformation of social theory more generally.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Pages (from-to)517-533
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2019
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Academic fields, Communicative constitution of organizations, Corporate social responsibility, Digital transformation, GABEK, Practice theory, Scientific communities
  • Management studies