Theorizing Butler: Performance and Performativity in the 21st Century Labour Market
Special issue call for papers from Gender in Management
Dr Corina Sheerin, Lecturer in Finance, National College of Ireland, EIRE
Dr Adelina Broadbridge, Senior Lecturer in Management, Work and Organisation, University of Stirling, UK
Since the 1990 publication of Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, the prolific work of Judith Butler has influenced inquiryacross a range of disciplines from Gender Studies to Marketing, Management, Business and Media Studies. At the core of Butler’s work is the conceptualisation of gender identity as malleable, flexible and fluid (Gherardi, 2005). She further contends that the constant and repetitive performance of gender is what underpins gender identity and ultimately gender structures. Dependent on societal spaces and places, the cultural understanding of gender comes into being due to the enactment and physical performance of gender. Often that agency is prejudiced by the dominant social conventions of gender and the continual maintenance of ‘norms’ which are socially and culturally scripted and often restrictive and heterosexual.
The concept of performativity is often presented alongside the notion of ‘(un)doing gender’. The expression ‘(un)doing gender’ is used to exemplify gender as a social construct which is embodied in everyday rituals and acts. It’searly proponents, West and Zimmerman (1987) theorise how gender is enacted and embodied within social interactions, situations and environments with individuals held accountable for how they ‘do gender’. They propose that one cannot opt not to ‘do gender’ as it is a fundamental element of individual identity and as such societal norms. As a consequence, the doing and undoing of gender plays an important role in the formation and maintenance of hierarchical structures within society as well as how inequalities are formed and manifested.
The labour market is an important construction site for power relations, gender identity formation and structural gender inequalities. Over the years the work of West and Zimmerman (1987) and Butler (1990) have gained prominence in gender, work and organisational studies with their theories of gender performance and undoing of gender. While there are differences in these two theoretical constructs and in the issues they are addressing they do have a common mainstay in their assumption that gender is a social practice and the formation of gender identity is variable and shifts between contexts. Over the last decades a growing body of literature has used the work of West and Zimmerman (1987) as well as Butler (1990) to explore the social practices of doing gender (Martin 2003; Linstead and Brewis, 2004; Gherardi and Poggio 2007; Pullen and Simpson 2009; Powell et al. 2009; Kelan 2010; Mavin and Grandy 2012; O’Connor 2014, O Connor et al. 2017).
This interdisciplinary call for papers is interested in ‘doing gender’ within the context of the 21st century labour market. The modern labour market is considered flexible, dynamic and technology driven. It is presented by some as a space where women are empowered agents who have boundaryless choice and are agents of their own destiny. While this view may be prevalent among the media and others, it is not one that is supported by feminist scholars. Indeed, Gill and Scharff (2013) contend that such notions of empowerment exacerbate and conceal a range of inequalities which impact young women’s lives and in particular frame their experiences in the labour market.
Within this journal edition, focus is placed upon uncovering the gendered structures which are embedded across the 21st century labour market; where and how gender is performed and in particular where and how the conventional doing of gender is disrupted. Drawing upon Nentwich and Kelan’s (2014) topology of doing gender the following broad themes are suggested. Themes outside of those suggested are also welcome and will be considered by the editors.
Theme and Potential Discussions
How gender is performed in certain sectors
Doing masculinity /Doing Femininity
How men and women’ work is valued
Symbolic hierarchies and male privilege
Constructing identity in gendered occupations
Difference: Disclosure or conformance in forming identity
Flexible and Context Specific
Norms according to labour market location
Who is gendering the activity
Dirty Work/Emotional Work
Gender as gradually relevant and subverted
Beyond Gender binaries-Queer Theory
Workplace context and Gender as an external reality
Men as the other
This journal edition will provide an important and substantive theoretical contribution to post -structural debate reconfiguring gender, work and organisations. It opens up the discussion concerning gender in the 21st century workplace and brings into focus the value of gender performativity as well as ‘doing gender’ in explaining how gender identities are constructed and altered as well as how gender structures are maintained.
Manuscripts must be original, unpublished works not concurrently under review for publication at another outlet. Submissions should be prepared according to the Author Guidelines found at: http://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/products/journals/author_guidelines.htm?id=gm
When submitting your manuscript, please ensure you select this special issue from the relevant drop down menu on page four of the submission process.
Submission must be made through the ScholarOne site: https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/gm by 20 April 2018.
Initial queries can be directed to the Guest Editor, Dr Corina Sheerin at [email protected]
Butler, J., 1990. Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York.
Gherardi, S., 2005. Feminist theory and organization theory. A dialogue on new bases. The Oxford Handbook of Organization Theory, Oxford University Press.
Gherardi, S. and Poggio, B., 2007. Gender telling in organizations: Narratives from male-dominated Environments, Copenhagen: Liber.
Gill, R. and Scharff, C. eds., 2013. New femininities: Postfeminism, neoliberalism and subjectivity, Springer.
Kelan, E.K., 2010. Gender logic and (un) doing gender at work. Gender, Work and Organization,Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.174-194.
Linstead, A. and Brewis, J. (2004). Editorial: Beyond Boundaries: Towards fluidity in theorizing and Practice, Gender, Work and Organization, Vol.11, No. 4, pp.355-362.
Martin, P.Y., 2003. “Said and done” versus “saying and doing” gendering practices, practicing gender at work, Gender and Society, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp.342-366.
Mavin, S. and Grandy, G., 2012. Doing gender well and differently in management, Gender in Management: An International Journal, Vol.27, No.4, pp.218-231.
Nentwich, J.C. and Kelan, E.K., 2014. Towards a topology of ‘doing gender’: An analysis of empirical research and its challenges, Gender, Work and Organization, Vol.21, No.2, pp.121-134.
O'Connor, P., 2014. Management and gender in higher education, Oxford University Press.
O’Connor, P., O’Hagan, C. and Gray, B., 2017. Femininities in STEM: Outsiders within, Work, Employment and Society, p.0950017017714198.
Powell, A., Bagilhole, B. and Dainty, A., 2009. How women engineers do and undo gender: Consequences for gender equality, Gender, Work and Organization, Vol.16, No.4, pp.411-428.
Pullen, A. and Simpson, R., 2009. Managing difference in feminized work: Men, otherness and social practice, Human Relations, Vol.62, No.4, pp.561-587.
West, C. and Zimmerman, D.H.,1987. Doing gender. Gender & Society, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp.125-151.