Essays on Atypicality: A narrative perspective to illuminate how atypical actors can counter the disciplining effect of categories

Cutolo, Donato (2021) Essays on Atypicality: A narrative perspective to illuminate how atypical actors can counter the disciplining effect of categories, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Phd in management, 32 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/9863.
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Using Big Data and Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools, this dissertation investigates the narrative strategies that atypical actors can leverage to deal with the adverse reactions they often elicit. Extensive research shows that atypical actors, those who fail to abide by established contextual standards and norms, are subject to skepticism and face a higher risk of rejection. Indeed, atypical actors combine features and behaviors in unconventional ways, thereby generating confusion in the audience and instilling doubts about their propositions' legitimacy. However, the same atypicality is often cited as the precursor to socio-cultural innovation and a strategic act to expand the capacity for delivering valued goods and services. Contextualizing the conditions under which atypicality is celebrated or punished has been a significant theoretical challenge for scholars interested in reconciling this tension. Nevertheless, prior work has focused on audience side factors or on actor-side characteristics that are only scantily under an actor's control (e.g., status and reputation). This dissertation demonstrates that atypical actors can use strategically crafted narratives to mitigate against the audience’s negative response. In particular, when atypical actors evoke conventional features in their story, they are more likely to overcome the illegitimacy discount usually applied to them. Moreover, narratives become successful navigational devices for atypicality when atypical actors use a more abstract language. This simplifies classification and provides the audience with more flexibility to interpret and understand them.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Cutolo, Donato
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
atypicality; narratives; topic modeling; categories, normalization
Data di discussione
27 Maggio 2021

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