Capturing Boredom and nonsense in meetings

This paper belongs to Thematic Session 2 of the Gothenburg Meeting Science Symposium

Malin Åkerström, Lund university (Dept. of Sociology)

Formal meetings are evens that are a peculiar mixture of sense and nonsense, of drama and dullness. For managers meetings may be an arena “where the action is”: situations to display competence and moral character. However, people may feel less involved, and meetings may be experienced as nonsense, as meaningless and worthless. A recurring theme in various studies is complaints about meetings, particularly regarding their frequency, their emptiness, and the forced attendance, taking time from what the employees consider their core tasks. In this paper I discuss how one may capture such experiences: in interviews by retold experiences or stories, in field observations by noticing side-talk, by side-involvement such as meeting scribbles or by using of smart phones or laptops during meetings, and in post-mortem accounts.

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