Ambiguity and polysemy as rhetorical resources in knowledge disputes: The struggle over the interpretation of Kuhn in organisation studies
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In knowledge disputes about the paradigmatic status of management and organisation studies, many commentators have debated whether or not interpretations of Thomas Kuhn’s work have been accurate, and have deplored the lack of a common and shared use of notions like «paradigm» and «incommensurability». By looking at the role of ambiguity and polysemy in knowledge disputes, the position developed here is one that recognises that the meaning of concepts is an important site of contestation. Ambiguity and polysemy are not merely obstacles to the resolution of controversies; they are rhetorical resources mobilised in the construction of positions and arguments. Thus, for very good reasons, attempts to generate shared meaning of concepts are likely to encounter important difficulties. This is illustrated by a rhetorical reading of two texts from the «paradigm debate».
keywordsParadigm debate in organisation studies, Incommensurability, Rhetoric of inquiry, Politics of representation, Ambiguity in scientific disputes.
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