Naming, condoning, and shaming: Interpreting employee assessments of behavior and misbehavior in the workplace

Lucy Taksa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Purpose - This chapter aims to show that attention to nicknaming as a form of language-making and sensemaking can provide a valuable avenue for exploring employees' assessments of (mis)behavior. It highlights the connection between gender and language-making as central to the way workers assess and respond to (mis)behavior in different workplaces. Methodology - The chapter uses an historical perspective and concepts drawn from sociology and organizational theory. It identifies nicknames and nicknaming practices from a wide range of documentary sources and oral sources. Findings - In considering nicknaming in terms of sensemaking and language-making rather than simply as a form of humor, the chapter shows that derogatory names enable employees to address the tensions and conflicts arising from formal organizational practices, rules, and managerial imperatives and workplace relations. It emphasizes commonalities in nicknaming practices that extend beyond the micro-level of specific workplaces and in doing so illustrates that nicknaming is not simply a manifestation of humor but as importantly of inter-subjective processes through which workers construct group identities to enforce coproduced informal rules of behavior. Social implications - The chapter illustrates the importance of workplace nicknaming and its implications for the way employees try to influence the behavior of others by condoning and/or shaming those who conform to or defy informal rules. Originality - The chapter's originality lies in its focus on employees' own assessments of misbehavior and on commonalities in nicknaming practices in different times and in different places.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRethinking Misbehavior and Resistance in Organizations
EditorsAlison Barnes, Lucy Taksa
Place of PublicationBingley, UK
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781780526638
ISBN (Print)9781780526621
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameAdvances in Industrial and Labor Relations
ISSN (Print)07426186


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