Phaticity as a technical mystique: the genred, multi-sited mediation of the innovation architect’s expertise

Eitan Wilf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Innovation consultants belong to a professional group of people who claim that they can help organizations become more innovative by reconfiguring them in ways that can facilitate the unimpeded flow of information between as many of their employees as possible. They are thus a prime example of phatic experts, inasmuch as they present themselves as people whose expertise turns on establishing channels of communication and contact between employees. In addition to ensuring that they make their clients and their products more innovative, innovation consultants must make socially legible their own economic actions, and themselves as economic actors who are capable of such actions, as part of what sociologists call a profession’s ‘technical mystique,’ that is, expert knowledge made visibly concrete and socially recognizable. Based on fieldwork with innovation consultants in the USA, I examine what phaticity looks like in the contemporary business world; how phatic ideologies regiment what counts as appropriate ‘contact,’ ‘channel,’ and ‘communication’ between organization members; how phaticity is mediated as a socially legible genre by means of material artifacts and the built office environment; and what rhetorical functions and outcomes such a mediation has.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)782-798
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cultural Economy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Innovation
  • genre
  • organizations
  • phaticity
  • professions


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