Metalogue: Trying to talk about sustainability – a reflection on experience

Stephen Allen, Judi Marshall


This paper considers dilemmas for organization and management scholars of studying and writing about environmental sustainability. It suggests that sustainability requires new ways of thinking which in turn require new forms of representation to help foster their emergence. Consequently, the paper takes the experimental form of a ‘metalogue’ (Bateson, 1973), in which the structure of the conversation between the authors is intended to be reflective of the problematic subject discussed, in this case their experiences of trying to publish an article about sustainability. This experimental form, which invites the reader to eschew expectations of typical points of orientation, enables an appreciation of how forms of argument seem to replicate epistemological challenges in the field. The paper shows how metaloguing becomes not only an alternative form but also an inquiry process for considering sustainability that can support embodied reflexivity, critical questioning and appreciation of entanglements of people-scholars.


sustainability; reflexivity; metalogue

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