The ‘Doing Differences’ Perspective on Gender and Diversity

Item Type Book Section

In this chapter we suggest that it is useful to view diversity as something that is actively created or ‘done’ in social practice, rather than merely an assemblage of individuals’ essential traits or fixed characteristics. This ‘doing’ perspective treats diversity as a social accomplishment. In exploring the concept of ‘doing differences’ (West and Fenstermaker, 1995), we focus on social practices and how they reproduce and stabilise identity-relevant categories such as gender, race or ethnicity, class, religion, age, (dis)ability and sexuality in everyday actions and activities. These dimensions all organize identities in a binary and hierarchical way, establishing and maintaining ‘differences that make a difference’ in terms of privilege and power (Nentwich and Kelan, 2014). In this perspective, the concept of ‘doing differences’ assumes that despite significant differences in their characteristics and outcomes, gender, race, class, and other identity-relevant categories are comparable as mechanisms for (re)producing social inequalities. The chapter is organized around the question of how differences are ‘done’. We first provide an outline of the ‘doing’ perspective, focusing on gender: the source of the theory. We then offer examples of management engaged in ‘doing’ differences and pinpoint why this perspective can help us understand how contemporary organizations function. We also reflect upon possible ways to ‘undo’ differences and to work for change in terms of equality, diversity and inclusion. While we start with theories and examples of ‘(un)doing’ gender in the workplace, we also describe what this means for other markers of difference, and for managing diversity in organizations. Throughout the chapter we highlight the impact of different socio-cultural contexts across Europe on the ‘doing’ of difference.

Authors Nentwich, Julia & Tienari, Janne
Editors Mensi-Klarbach, Heike & Risberg, Annette
Research Team Alexandria LinkPublikationen, Alexandria Link Publikationen
Language English
Keywords Business and Management, Diversity Management/Women in Business
Subjects business studies
social sciences
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
HSG Profile Area SHSS - Kulturen, Institutionen, Maerkte (KIM)
Date 15 February 2019
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan international
Place of Publication Basingstoke
Number 2nd edition
Page Range 124-151
Number of Pages 28
Title of Book Diversity in Organizations. Concepts and Practices
ISBN 9781137569271
Depositing User Christina Ihasz
Date Deposited 11 Feb 2019 08:19
Last Modified 21 Jan 2021 01:23


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Nentwich, Julia & Tienari, Janne: The ‘Doing Differences’ Perspective on Gender and Diversity. In Mensi-Klarbach, Heike & Risberg, Annette (ed.): Diversity in Organizations. Concepts and Practices. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan international, 2019, S. 124-151.

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