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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alan McKinlay
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Judith Butler occupies centre-stage in debates about gender identities. Butler's key concept is performativity: the ways in which gender identity is embodied and enacted, rather than a more or less adequate reflection of some underlying bodily reality. Butler draws on Foucault in several respects, not least her stress on the physicality of individual and social life, and her concern to understand identity as a social process. Identity is always provisional rather complete, a deeply ambiguous and unstable moment. Performativity is not reducible to performance and the degree of choice involved in identity construction both makes it appear more ‘natural’ for the individual and also open to reinterpretation. This is where Butler finds political hope. Foucauldian research on contemporary work identities has largely ignored Butler. Corporate, professional and occupational identities are too often portrayed as simply imposed on individuals in ways that leave little scope for ambiguity or negotiation. Butler's notion of performativity provides a way of understanding the ambiguities and paradoxes of contemporary identities at work.
Author(s): McKinlay A
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Critical Perspectives on Accounting
Print publication date: 01/03/2010
ISSN (print): 1045-2354
ISSN (electronic): 1095-9955
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd.
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