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Liminality, space and the importance of ‘transitory dwelling places’ at work

Shortt, Harriet


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Harriet Shortt
Associate Professor in Organisation Studies


© The Author(s) 2015. This article draws attention to the spaces in-between and employees’ lived experiences of liminal spaces at work. It illustrates how and why liminal spaces are used and made meaningful by workers, in contrast to the dominant spaces that surround them. Consequently, the article extends the concept of liminality and argues that when liminal spaces are constructed, by workers, as vital and meaningful to their everyday lives they cease to be liminal spaces and instead become ‘transitory dwelling places’. In order to examine this shift from ambiguous space to meaningful place, the works of Casey (1993), amongst others, are used to make further sense of the space/materiality/work nexus in organizational life. This article is based on empirical data gathered from a nine-month study of hairdressers working in hair salons and explores the function and meaning of liminal spaces used by hairdressers in their everyday lives. The contribution of this article is three-fold; it argues that space is not just about dominant spaces; it extends the concept of liminality; and in connection with the latter, it demonstrates how transitory dwelling places offer fertile ground in which we might further develop our knowledge of the lived experiences of space at work.


Shortt, H. (2015). Liminality, space and the importance of ‘transitory dwelling places’ at work. Human Relations, 68(4), 633-658.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Oct 6, 2014
Publication Date Apr 1, 2015
Journal Human Relations
Print ISSN 0018-7267
Electronic ISSN 1741-282X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 68
Issue 4
Pages 633-658
Keywords hairdressers, hair salons, liminal, organizational space and place, photography, visual research
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