Performing a myth to make a market : The construction of the ‘magical world’ of Santa

Palo, Teea Erja Marjaana and Mason, Katherine Jane and Roscoe, Philip (2020) Performing a myth to make a market : The construction of the ‘magical world’ of Santa. Organization Studies, 41 (1). pp. 53-75. ISSN 0170-8406

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If you believe in Santa, do not read this paper. Through an in-depth, qualitative, empirical study, we follow the Santa myth to a remote northern location in Lapland, Finland where, for 1 month a year, multiple actors come together to create a tourist market offering: the chance to visit Santa in his ‘magical world’. We explore how the myth is transformed into reality through performative, organisational speech acts, whereby felicitous conditions for the performance of visits to Santa are embedded in a complex socio-material network. We develop the performative turn (Gond et al., 2016) in organisational studies by introducing a new category of speech act, ‘translocution’, a compendium of imagining, discussing, proposing, negotiating, and contracting that transforms the myth into a model of an imaginary-real world. Through translocutionary acts, actors calculate, organise the socio-material networks of the market, and manage the considerable uncertainty inherent in its operation. Details of the myth become market facts, while commercial constructs fade into the imaginary. The result, when felicitous conditions are achieved, is a ‘Merry Christmas’ of magical, performative power.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Organization Studies
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Organization Studies, 41 (1), 2018, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2018 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Organization Studies page: on SAGE Journals Online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? imaginary-realmarketmythperformativitysanta clausspeech acttranslocutionorganizational behavior and human resource managementstrategy and managementmanagement of technology and innovation ??
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02 Jul 2018 07:48
Last Modified:
16 Feb 2024 00:47