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Accepted Paper:

Institutional disruption through the redesign of spaces: Restoration and renewal of the UK Parliament  

Author:

Sabina Siebert (University of Glasgow)

Paper short abstract:

I explore the links between the institution of the Westminster Parliament and the building in which it is located. Drawing on my ethnographic study including walking interviews, I answer the research questions: How do various actors use buildings to drive or resist institutional change?

Paper long abstract:

In this presentation I will explore the links between the institution of the Westminster Parliament and the building in which it is located - the Palace of Westminster. Drawing on my ethnographic study including walking interviews, I answer the research questions: How do various actors use buildings to drive or resist institutional change? To what extent are the workings of the UK Parliament as an institution intertwined with the buildings and their current design? I draw on the key contributions to cultural geography such as Lefebvre (1974), Soja (1989), Massey (2005) and management scholars (Lawrence & Dover, 2015; Jones & Massa, 2013; Siebert et al., 2017) that recognized the role of spaces and places in the maintenance of institutions and acknowledged that organizational spaces have social and symbolic consequences. My analysis reveals a number of aspects of a mutually constitutive relationship between the institution and the building hosting the organization. First, the building provides a setting for quirky practices taking place within it, such as the pomp and circumstance of Parliamentary rituals requiring ceremonial clothes. Second, the symbolic demarcation of spaces regulates the behaviour of stakeholders in the building. Third, and most important, the attachment to the space is motivated by what I refer to as 'the Churchill effect,' i.e. the link that contemporary actors maintain with "the ghost of the place".

Panel AA11
Anthropologists and geographers engaging in public policy and practice