Queering Careers: Exploring Difference in relation to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Career Progression
Date: 28 April 2017
University of Exeter
PhD in Management Studies
This thesis explores the relationship between sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) and career progression (CP) by applying a performative, post-structuralist, and queer theory influenced approach to career theory. It analyses how, that is to say in what ways and by what means, homosexual and transgender difference is produced ...
This thesis explores the relationship between sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) and career progression (CP) by applying a performative, post-structuralist, and queer theory influenced approach to career theory. It analyses how, that is to say in what ways and by what means, homosexual and transgender difference is produced through the processes associated with CP. It is based on 36 interviews with individuals of diverse ages and occupations who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT) and are based in the south-west of England. Hitherto career theory has based its understanding of CP on individual differences and/or category based explanations. The contribution of this thesis comes from using an anti-categorical understanding of difference to show how SOGI and CP are interacting disciplinary regimes. SOGI not only affects CP through assumptions about capability and suitability, but difference is constituted through CP – as the associated acts and interactions shape the way we think of ourselves, our possibilities, our becoming. Responsibility for achieving SOGI and CP is devolved to the individual, who is then often forced to prioritise one or the other. The findings show some shared patterns (which are argued to be based on situational, performative, embodied experiences not identity categories), such as minimising or compensating for difference, femininity as a locus for limiting discourse and self-employment as a mode of exclusion. Trajectories, choices and aspirations are affected, though not necessarily disadvantageously, leading to the conceptualisation of careers as queered by homosexual and transgender difference. This research contributes by arguing that rather than consider CP in terms of category based ceilings, CP and the production of difference can be understood as multiplicitous, emergent, and co-productive processes. This thesis forms a timely contribution to understanding LGBT experience during a period of intense change in social recognition, which includes discourses of normalisation, by suggesting that we still need to recognise the often subtle internal and external reiterations of heteronormative discourse that produce difference.
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