9. Semiotics of Organizations

  1. D. Douglas Caulkins2 and
  2. Ann T. Jordan3
  1. Joseph D. Hankins

Published Online: 2 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118325513.ch9

A Companion to Organizational Anthropology

A Companion to Organizational Anthropology

How to Cite

Hankins, J. D. (2012) Semiotics of Organizations, in A Companion to Organizational Anthropology (eds D. D. Caulkins and A. T. Jordan), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118325513.ch9

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Social Entrepreneurs of Grinnell, USA

  2. 3

    University of North Texas, USA

Author Information

  1. University of California, San Diego, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 2 OCT 2012
  2. Published Print: 29 OCT 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405199827

Online ISBN: 9781118325513



  • Buraku discrimination;
  • circulation;
  • commensuration;
  • Dalit communities;
  • political organizations;
  • semiotic aspects


This chapter examines the way in which semiotic aspects of circulation and commensuration presuppose and entail people, words, and objects as combinable into organizational forms. First, the chapter articulates an understanding of organizations as a particular locus for managing the circulation and commensuration of people, words, and objects, based upon a theory of semiotics, inspired by the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce. The chapter then turns to a case study and provides three examples of how the circulation of people, words, and objects is negotiated in a process that confers agency upon different actors and limns the purview of organizational efficaciousness. These examples focus on two groups of people – the Dalit of South Asia and the Buraku of Japan – who encounter demands to be similar under the deployment of “Discrimination Based on Work and Descent”, a new category created by the UN.