I just came across the idea of inhabited institutionalism and I find it extremely compelling. Here’s an overview from a paper by Tim Hallett and Emily Meanwell:
Inhabited institutionalism is a nascent approach that creates a conversation between Chicago-style interactionism and the new institutionalism in organizational analysis. (Bechky 2011; Haedicke 2012; Hallett and Ventresca 2006). Inhabited institutionalism emphasizes the recursive relationships between the cultural ideals that exist in the institutional environment, and the interactions through which people—inside of and across organizations—respond to these cultural pressures, and in turn shape them.
To deal with these misperceptions, inhabited institutionalism builds upon and expands the negotiated order branch of SI (Dingwall and Strong 1985; Maines 1982; Strauss 1978) by reconsidering the macro-cultural (institutional) pressures that bear To deal with these misperceptions, inhabited institutionalism builds upon and expands the negotiated order branch of SI (Dingwall and Strong 1985; Maines 1982; Strauss 1978) by reconsidering the macro-cultural (institutional) pressures that bear on interactions. These pressures are ideational as well as structural, and they shape interactions in important ways. These pressures partially constitute (but do not completely determine) how interactions unfold, what they are about, and what previous meanings “feed forward” (Pedriana and Stryker 1997). However, interactions also have a semi-autonomous role. As a result, “Institutions are not inert categories of meaning; rather, they are populated with people whose social interactions suffuse institutions with local force and significance” (Hallett and Ventresca 2006:213).Inhabited institutionalism has developed through research on education. Inspired by Meyer and Rowan’s (1977, 1978) seminal research on loose coupling, Hallett. (2010) examines how teachers and administrators respond to the broader institutional logic of accountability by recoupling their everyday work practices to policy mandates, and how, through their social interactions, seemingly “rational” accountability policies are given an irrational meaning (“turmoil”). In a related study, Aurini (2012) uses inhabited institutionalism to examine the unexpected couplings and decouplings between market pressures and teaching practices in for-pro tutoring franchises. Subsequent work examines how teachers use their professional training. and experience to make sense of accountability (Everitt 2012, 2013), how students create distinctive campus cultures in response to broader cultural myths about. hard work, intelligence, and multiculturalism (Nunn 2014; Reyes 2015), and how. bio-scientists adapt their practices in light of new regulations that promote a form of commercialized academic entrepreneurship (Kameo 2015)