Towards a performative understanding of deservingness: merit, gender and the BBC pay dispute

Article


Kumra, S., Lewis, P., Rumens, N. and Simpson, R. 2020. Towards a performative understanding of deservingness: merit, gender and the BBC pay dispute. Gender, Work and Organization. 27 (2), pp. 181-197. https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12397
TypeArticle
TitleTowards a performative understanding of deservingness: merit, gender and the BBC pay dispute
AuthorsKumra, S., Lewis, P., Rumens, N. and Simpson, R.
Abstract

Drawing largely on a high profile case of unequal pay at the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) as an illustrative example, this conceptual paper considers differences and interrelationships between merit and deservingness, where the latter captures how, through appropriate performances, merit is given recognition and value. We propose a performative understanding of deservingness that highlights its gendered and embodied dimensions. Informed by Judith Butler's account of gender performativity, we show that, while merit is conventionally conceptualized as a relatively fixed set of attributes (qualifications, skill) ‘attached' to the individual, deservingness captures how, in gendered terms, value and recognition are both claimed and conferred. As we argue, a gendered, deserving subject does not pre‐exist but is performatively constituted through embodied practices and performances of what is seen as worthy in a particular time and place.

KeywordsOrganizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, Gender Studies
Research GroupDiversity and Gender group
PublisherWileyBlackwell
JournalGender, Work and Organization
ISSN0968-6673
Electronic1468-0432
Publication dates
Online30 Jul 2019
Print06 Feb 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited05 Jul 2019
Accepted10 Jun 2019
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
License
Copyright Statement

Published article: © 2019 The Authors Gender, Work & Organization Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12397
LanguageEnglish
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