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Treading the (corporate) board. A critical analysis of organisational diversity discourse

Clarke, Alison (2020) Treading the (corporate) board. A critical analysis of organisational diversity discourse. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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My aims in this thesis, in terms of analysing the persistence of gendered occupational segmentation in the UK, are three-fold. The first is to explore the extent to which organisational diversity discourse is the outcome of essentialist, binary thinking; the second is to examine whether essentialism can be analysed as a form of identity thinking; and the third is to assess whether and in what ways that analysis can contribute to feminist organisation studies and critical diversity scholarship. To achieve those aims, I carried out a critical discourse analysis of the diversity discourse of 30 FTSE 100 companies, highlighting the essentialism that underpins it, and the ways in which organisations have conflated biological and cultural essentialism. By drawing on Theodor Adorno’s theory of negative dialectics, I argue that this essentialism can be analysed and understood in terms of the identity thinking that permeates organisational discourse such that women are classified and categorised according to their supposed natural, biological characteristics. However, as organisations have mistaken the natural for the cultural and the cultural for the natural, they have come to assume that the object of women’s biology (the body or the natural) equates to the concept of their sexed and gendered characteristics (the social or the cultural). Adorno, on the other hand, argues that under non-identity thinking, “objects do not go into their concepts without leaving a remainder” (Adorno, 1973: 5). I suggest that Adorno’s theory contributes to feminist scholarship by shifting the focus away from the binary thinking inherent within the sex/gender dualism and onto the identity thinking that produced it in the first place. I contribute to critical diversity and feminist organisation studies scholarship by moving away from an analysis of corporate diversity discourse focused largely on difference, inclusion and poststructuralism respectively to an analysis highlighting its identarian, subjectivistic and hierarchical nature.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
Depositing User: Alison Clarke
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2020 15:20
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2020 15:20

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