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

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Section Two

Embodying Organizations, Organizing Bodies and Regulating Identities

Editorial Introduction

Within the literature on gender and sociology more generally the last few decades have seen considerable efforts to create a greater balance between the mind and the body in research. This section reflects that concern by focusing on the body, embodiment and identities in gender, work and organization. A proliferation of literature on the body within sociology began in the early 1980s (Shilling, 2007). However much of this literature remained disembodied largely because the subject matter was simply an extension of other cognitively dominated targets of analysis that involve exhaustive representations of life in pursuit of a secure masculine self. Discourses of masculinity transform everything into a target for mastery or possession and ‘if it cannot be possessed then it must be banished to the margins where it is contained if not controlled’ (Knights and Kerfoot, 2004: 433).

The body is often denied, marginalised or taken for granted yet is almost always gendered in ways that invariably disadvantage women. Of course, young, physically attractive women can succeed in most organizations and institutions especially when occupying front line public profile positions such as TV presenters, entertainers more generally or receptionists. Described by Amanda Sinclair in this volume as ‘Lookism’, it may benefit a minority of women but only at the expense of the majority. A majority of ...

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