Eric Abrahamson

The Iron Cage: Ugly, Uncool, and Unfashionable


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Historical studies reveal how organizational markets supplied artifacts that became fashionable because they met not only consumers' cultural tastes, but also their technological preferences. This article calls such artifacts cultural-technological fusions. The digital mode of production tends to generate more types of fashionable fusions, which replace each other at a growing rate, and travel increasingly swiftly across consumers globally. These changes in fashion markets mandate a revised theory of fashion bearing on the organizational production of digital culture-technology fusions and on the characteristics of fusions so produced. This article's theory describes digital production processes enabling fusion's rapid visualization, creation, and awareness among global consumers, production processes that create or reinforce three types of fusions: "beautiful technologies," that is technologies rendered aesthetic; "efficient beauties," that is aesthetic artifacts rendered technologically efficient; "concoctions," that is, new technologies fused with new cultural tastes. Finally, the theory discusses the novel characteristics of the market supply and consumption of fashionable fusions.

Source: Organizational Studies
Exact Citation:
Abrahamson, Eric. "The Iron Cage: Ugly, Uncool, and Unfashionable." Organizational Studies 32, no. 5 (May 2011): 615-629.
Volume: 32
Number: 5
Pages: 615-629
Date: 5 2011