Tower Cranes and Organization Studies

Martin Parker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
187 Downloads (Pure)


This is a paper about different ways of revealing materials, and a theory of organization. It moves through a kaleidoscope of perspectives which reveal the tower crane as made through its relations with a series of different ways of seeing – engineering and mathematics, capitalist economics, and a workplace labour process. It employs a wide variety of sources, including some interviews that I have done with crane drivers. I then move into an account of the modernist fascination with technology, particularly Soviet constructivism. The latter provides the theoretical scaffolding which allows me to see the crane as a temporary stabilization of structure, and structure as an arrangement of planes and lines of force which allows certain moves just as it prevents others. This is a way of saying that an adequate understanding of ‘organization’ requires thinking multiples and relations. Nodding towards Deleuze and Guattari towards the end, I suggest that cranes are good to think with for these multiple purposes, but that any assemblage would do.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989-1004
Number of pages16
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number7
Early online date26 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • construction
  • constructivism
  • futurism
  • materials
  • socio-technical
  • tower cranes


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