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Heroism and/as injurious speech: Recognition, precarity and inequality in health and social care work

Tyler, Melissa and Hales, Sophie (2022) 'Heroism and/as injurious speech: Recognition, precarity and inequality in health and social care work.' Gender, Work and Organization, 29 (4). pp. 1199-1218. ISSN 0968-6673

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Abstract

This paper draws on Judith Butler’s (2009, 1997) writing on precarity and the interpellatory power of naming, read through her recent writing on the dynamics of recognition, vulnerability, and resistance (Butler, 2016, 2020), to develop a critique of the discourse of heroism used to position health and social care professionals, and other key workers, during the COVID pandemic. It does so in order to reflect on the insights into workplace inequalities that this example provides, in particular into what, to borrow from Butler, we might think of as the conditions necessary for a ‘workable life’. It argues that, although it might seem paradoxical, the heroic discourses and symbolism used to recognize health and social care workers throughout the pandemic can be understood as a form of ‘injurious speech’ in Butler’s terms, one that served to Other key workers by subjecting them to a reified, rhetorical form of recognition. The analysis argues that this had the effect of accentuating health and care workers’ precarity and of undermining their capacity to challenge and resist this positioning.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: COVID-19; health and social care work; heroism; Judith Butler; workplace inequalities
Uncontrolled Keywords: COVID-19; health and social care work; heroism; Judith Butler; workplace inequalities
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2022 12:42
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2022 12:41
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/32528

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