Invention and Organizing of Thai Bodies – Making New Markets Where None Were before
This article seeks to make a contribution to our understanding of organizing innovation, entrepreneurship and the making of a market inside a social practice that consists of multiple markets. The article takes a “new sociology of economics” and actor network theory perspective to the study of an entrepreneurial and innovative franchise organization in Thailand.
The study shows that despite the official and generally agreed-on existence of a potential large but abstract market for fitness services, where both the aggregated supply and demand are expected to grow, the franchise has never met this market. Instead, franchises found themselves in multiple markets consisting of restaurants, movie theatres, shopping malls, cafés, and friendship groups, i.e., the markets that have more in common with Weber’s minimalistic definition of markets as competition for opportunities of exchange.
From this initial competition for opportunities of exchange, the article seeks to show how the franchise organizes the embedding of ‘clients’ into a network of practices and relations that create a Thai trained body, which is toned, shaped, strong, mindful and aesthetic, in enjoyable ways that the clients did not perceive previously.
It is argued that to create a market, the franchise has to enlist, train and discipline agents into a new regime where pain is experienced differently, where connection to the music in the class will be tools for strength and endurance, where the aesthetics of the body is seen differently, where toning and leanness is the measure of success and weight is seen as problematic.
The organizing and the reorganizing of markets and organization through innovation are argued to be the keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur.