Performing a myth to make a market: The construction of the ‘magical world’ of Santa

Teea Palo, Katy Mason, Philip John Roscoe

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)
    8 Downloads (Pure)


    If you believe in Santa, do not read this paper. Through an in-depth, qualitative, empirical study, we follow the Santa myth to a remote northern location in Lapland, Finland where, for one month a year, multiple actors come together to create a tourist market offering: the chance to visit Santa in his ‘magical world’. We explore how the myth is transformed into reality through performative, organisational speech acts, whereby felicitous conditions for the performance of visits to Santa are embedded in a complex socio-material network. We develop the performative turn (Gond et al., 2016) in organisational studies by introducing a new category of speech act, ‘translocution’, a compendium of imagining, discussing, proposing, negotiating and contracting that transforms the myth into a model of an imaginary-real world. Through translocutionary acts, actors calculate, organise the socio-material networks of the market, and manage the considerable uncertainty inherent in its operation. Details of the myth become market facts, while commercial constructs fade into the imaginary. The result, when felicitous conditions are achieved, is a ‘Merry Christmas’ of magical, performative power.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)53-75
    Number of pages23
    JournalOrganization Studies
    Issue number1
    Early online date9 Aug 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


    • Myth
    • Performativity
    • Speech act
    • Market
    • Santa Claus
    • Imaginary-real
    • Translocution


    Dive into the research topics of 'Performing a myth to make a market: The construction of the ‘magical world’ of Santa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this