Deferring Difference No More: An (im)modest, relational plea from/through Karen Barad

Kate Lockwood Harris, Karen Lee Ashcraft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The field of management and organization studies (MOS) regularly invokes the relational theories of Karen Barad in sociomaterial and new materialist scholarship. Taking the increasing influence of this work as our point of departure, we witness once again the deferral of difference as organizational scholars grapple with Barad’s oeuvre but gloss the work’s feminist, queer, and decolonial impetus. As a consequence, relational scholarship in MOS circulates without its commentary on gender, race, sexuality, and related axes of inequity. This article recenters these aspects of relational approaches in three steps: (1) identifying the scholarly practices through which they disappear, (2) “re-relationalizing” relational theory in its radical roots, and (3) envisioning scholarly practices that better actualize the potential of relational theories. Our goal is to cultivate the constitutive relations of MOS such that we cease the deferral of difference, both in the study of power and in studies of “generic” organizational practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1987-2008
Number of pages22
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • Barad
  • difference
  • feminist new materialism
  • power
  • relational theories
  • sociomateriality


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