CfP: Organizing Exclusion: Tackling Inequities by Dealing with Organizations

NEON-dagene 2023

November 21-23, 2023

Trondheim, Norway


Deadline for submission of abstracts (max 500 words) is August 31, 2023.

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Track Organizers:

  • Svenja Hammer, Disability and Society Research Group, Department of Social Work, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Michael Grothe-Hammer, Organization and Society Research Group, Department of Sociology and Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Håkon Leiulfsrud, Welfare and Inequality Research Group, Department of Sociology and Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Siri Øyslebø Sørensen, Center for Gender Research, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Organizations have been found to be both the main cause and the main solution for social inequities (Acker, 2006; Amis et al., 2020; Luhmann, 2013; Powell & Brandtner, 2016; Tomaskovic-Devey & Avent-Holt, 2019). That organizations produce inequalities, can be seen as one of their main functions for modern society: schools produce graduates with differing bodies of knowledge and grades, employers pay different employees differently, political organizations nominate certain people in elections for political positions but not others, sports associations conduct competitions and produce rankings of winners and losers, mass media organizations report on the fate of some people but not others, and so on. Organizations produce these inequalities by regulating inclusion and exclusion into themselves, into other organizations, and into relevant communications. Inclusion into and exclusion from organizations thereby often means inclusion into and exclusion from modern society and its different areas (Schirmer & Michailakis, 2015). For instance, without inclusion into a sports association, no inclusion into (competitive) sports; without inclusion into a university, no scientific career; and without labor paid by organizations, no income. And even if one is self-employed or otherwise financially “independent”, one still needs inclusion into markets or platforms – access to which is usually, again, regulated through organizations (Ahrne et al., 2015; Kirchner & Schüßler, 2019; Rachlitz, 2023). This is why some have argued that “exclusion” is the default setting of organizations (Luhmann, 2013).

Obviously, this produces social problems. While organizations are indeed supposed to produce inequalities, they regularly produce and reproduce also the undesirable inequalities, and, hence, inequity (Luhmann, 2022). Organizations function as racist, sexist, ageist, and ableist. (Acker, 2006; Chiu et al., 2001; Jammaers et al., 2016; Ray, 2019), and many individuals and groups end up being excluded from organizations or through them. Correspondingly, approaches of counter-organizing have gained increasing popularity, especially in feminist organizational studies (Calás & Smircich, 2014; Wickström et al., 2021). This is also where a secondary line of organizations comes into play, i.e., organizations of social help or social services and interest organizations. A myriad of organizations exist that have as their main purpose to tend to the excluded (Schirmer & Michailakis, 2015). They include those who have been excluded, in order to reinclude them into society or at least to include them in alternative social formats.

Therefore, tackling inequities in society usually means dealing somehow with organizations, i.e., on the one hand those organizations that regulate inclusion and exclusion of individuals like employers, schools, universities, hospitals, insurers, juridical courts, law enforcement, art galleries, news media, banks, sharing platforms, political parties, churches, sports associations, and many more, and on the other hand organizations of social help or service that “manage” those who end up being excluded (Schirmer & Michailakis, 2015).

In this thematic track, we want to further investigate how organizations exclude and include, how they manage exclusion and inclusion, how they produce inequalities, and how these processes effect inequities. We thereby also welcome discussions of how to counteract undesirable forms of exclusion and inequalities. Contributions can be conceptual, empirical, or methodological in nature. We welcome submissions from all social sciences including but not limited to sociology, social work, organization and management studies, disability studies, cultural studies, educational science, and gender studies.



  • Acker, J. (2006). Inequality Regimes: Gender, Class, and Race in Organizations. Gender & Society, 20(4), 441–464.
  • Ahrne, G., Aspers, P., & Brunsson, N. (2015). The Organization of Markets. Organization Studies, 36(1), 7–27.
  • Amis, J. M., Mair, J., & Munir, K. A. (2020). The Organizational Reproduction of Inequality. Academy of Management Annals, 14(1), 195–230.
  • Calás, M. B., & Smircich, L. (2014). Engendering the Organizational. In P. Adler, P. Du Gay, G. Morgan, & M. Reed (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Sociology, Social Theory, and Organization Studies (pp. 605–659). Oxford University Press.
  • Chiu, W., Chan, A., Snape, E., & Redman, T. (2001). Age stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes towards older workers: An East-West comparison. HUMAN RELATIONS, 54(5), 629–661.
  • Jammaers, E., Zanoni, P., & Hardonk, S. (2016). Constructing positive identities in ableist workplaces: Disabled employees’ discursive practices engaging with the discourse of lower productivity. HUMAN RELATIONS, 69(6), 1365–1386.
  • Kirchner, S., & Schüßler, E. (2019). The Organization of Digital Marketplaces: Unmasking the Role of Internet Platforms in the Sharing Economy. In G. Ahrne & N. Brunsson (Eds.), Organization outside Organizations (1st ed., pp. 131–154). Cambridge University Press.
  • Luhmann, N. (2013). Theory of Society: Volume 2. Stanford University Press.
  • Luhmann, N. (2022). On the Concept of Social Class. In C. Morgner (Ed.), The Making of Meaning: From the Individual to Social Order: Selections from Niklas Luhmann’s Works on Semantics and Social Structure (p. 0). Oxford University Press.
  • Powell, W. W., & Brandtner, C. (2016). Organizations as Sites and Drivers of Social Action. In S. Abrutyn (Ed.), Handbook of Contemporary Sociological Theory (pp. 269–291). Springer International Publishing.
  • Rachlitz, K. (2023). Platform Organising and Platform Organisations. PuntOorg International Journal, 8(1), Article 1.
  • Ray, V. (2019). A Theory of Racialized Organizations. American Sociological Review, 84(1), 26–53.
  • Schirmer, W., & Michailakis, D. (2015). The Luhmannian approach to exclusion/inclusion and its relevance to Social Work. Journal of Social Work, 15(1), 45–64.
  • Tomaskovic-Devey, D., & Avent-Holt, D. (2019). Relational Inequalities: An Organizational Approach (1st ed.). Oxford University Press.
  • Wickström, A., Lund, R. W. B., Meriläinen, S., Øyslebø Sørensen, S., Vachhani, S. J., & Pullen, A. (2021). Feminist solidarity: Practices, politics, and possibilities. Gender, Work & Organization, 28(3), 857–863.














C o n t a c t

Michael Grothe-Hammer