Ritual semiosis in the business corporation: Recruitment to routinized innovation

Eitan Wilf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This essay draws on fieldwork conducted in a workshop organized in New York City by an innovation consultancy group and attended by representatives of different business corporations. In this workshop, participants are supposed to learn a set of innovation techniques for generating new products and services and to become convinced that there can be added value in buying the consultancy group’s services. The task of the consultancy group embodies a basic cultural contradiction because innovation is widely associated with notions that derive from a modern Romantic ethos of creativity, which itself connotes resistance to routinization. To overcome this contradiction the facilitators engage the participants in ritual semiosis. They orchestrate densely multilayered and multimodal discursive practices that reflexively consolidate a macrosociological order, which opposes a Romantic ethos and a professional ethos, and that dynamically figurate transformations in the mi-crosociological context of the participants’ role-inhabitance with respect to innovation— from their role-inhabitance of a Romantic ethos at the beginning of the workshop to their entailed role-inhabitance of a professional ethos at the workshop’s end.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)S13-S40
JournalSigns and Society
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Semiosis Research Center at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. All rights reserved.


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