2020 will mark thirty years since the first publication of Judith Butler’s ground-breaking book, Gender Trouble. Here, and in subsequent work, Butler argues that gender and other forms of identity can best be understood as performative acts. These acts are what bring our subjectivities into existence, enabling us to be recognized as viable employable social beings, worthy of rights, responsibilities and respect. The three decades since the publication of Gender Trouble have witnessed Butler become one of the most widely cited and controversial figures in contemporary feminist thinking. While it is only in her most recent work that Butler has engaged directly with themes such as work and organization, her writing has profound implications for thinking, and acting, on the relationship between power, recognition and organization. Whilst her ideas have made important in-roads into work, organization and gender studies that are discussed here, there is considerable scope to explore further avenues that her concepts and theories open up. These inroads and avenues are the focus of this book.
Judith Butler and Organization Theory makes a substantial contribution to the analysis of gender, work and organization. It not only covers central issues in Butler’s work, it also offers a close reading of the complexities and nuances in her thought. It does so by ‘reading’ Butler as a theorist of organization, whose work resonates with scholars, practitioners and activists concerned to understand and engage with organizational life, organization and organizing. Drawing from a range of illustrative examples, the book examines key texts or ‘moments’ in the development of Butler’s writing to date, positing her as a thinker concerned to understand and address the ways in which our most basic desire for recognition comes to be organized within the context of contemporary labour markets and workplaces. It examines insights from Butler’s work, and the philosophical ideas she draws on, considering the impact of these on work, organization and management studies thus far; it also explores some of the many ways in which her thinking might be mobilized in future, considering what scope there is for a non-violent ethics of organization, and for a (re)assembling of the relationship between vulnerability and resistance within and through organizational politics.
1) Making trouble: Organizational performativity and parody
2) The organizational ‘matter’ of bodies at work
3) Un/doing organization - Coherence at the cost of complexity
4) Accounting for/in organization: Giving and working an account of one’s self
5) Organized dispossession: The organizational politics of precarity
6) Organizational (re)assemblage: Towards a plural performativity
Postscript - Organizing a/as non-violent ethics and politics
Although still a fairly young field, the study of gender and organizations is increasingly popular and relevant. There are few areas of academic research that are as vibrant and dynamic as the study of gender and organizations. While much earlier research has focused on documenting the imbalances of women and men in organizations, more recently, research on gender and organizations has departed from counting men and women. Instead research in this area sees gender as a process: something that is done rather than something that people are. This perspective is important and meaningful as it takes researchers away from essentialist notions of gender and opens the possibility of analysing the process of how individuals become women and men. This is called ‘gendering’, ‘practising gender’, ‘doing gender’ or ‘performing gender’ and draws on rich philosophical traditions.
Whilst Routledge Studies in Gender and Organizations has a broad remit, it will be thematically and theoretically committed to exploring gender and organizations from a constructivist perspective. Rather than focusing on specific areas of organizations, the series is to be kept deliberately broad to showcase the most innovative research in this field. It is anticipated that the books in this series will make a theoretical contribution to the field of gender and organization based on rigorous empirical explorations.