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Handbook of Gender, Work, and Organization by Patricia Yancey Martin, David Knights,, Emma L Jeanes

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Chapter 3

Ways of Knowing: Gender as a Politics of Knowledge?1

Silvia Gherardi

University of Trento, Italy

Introduction

This chapter examines the way in which gender, power and knowledge are intimately intertwined. Its purpose is to illustrate how gender (‘doing’ gender) can be considered a politics of knowledge. Because there are many ways to define and conceptualize what is meant by ‘gender’, I shall begin by making explicit the approach that I adopt.

My discussion will be framed within postmodern feminist thought as described by Tyler’s chapter in this Handbook. Although the relationship between feminist theories and postmodernism/poststructuralism in studies on work and organizations has been a difficult one, we may nevertheless say that it has also been highly fruitful (Calás and Smircich, 1997; Holvino, 1996; Gherardi, 2003) because it has contextualized the inheritance of Foucault (1986) and shown by means of concrete examples how knowledge is an inextricable aspect of power, and how it is historically and culturally specific because it is the product of a particular discourse. The broad movement which has begun to deconstruct metanarratives (Hekman, 1990) has also revealed that the alleged universality and objectivity of knowledge is a power effect. Post-colonial and queer studies, for example, have brought a plurality of subjects to centre stage and claimed legitimacy for plural ‘knowledges’ (Bhabha, 1988; Monro, 2005; Gandhi, 2006; Anim-Addo et al., 2009). Within this ...

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