Constructions of equality and discrimination in professional men's talk

S C E Riley

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65 Citations (SciVal)


The contradiction between support for egalitarian employment practices and the maintenance of occupational androcentrism was examined by discursively analysing constructions of equality and discrimination from 46 interviews with professional men. Accounts of equality were produced through the interpretative repertories of 'interchangeability', 'individual ability' and 'pragmatism'. This enables, first, an understanding of discrimination as 'non-individualism', a term used to describe the treatment of social group memberships as salient, and second, defined interventions based on a structural analysis of equality as discrimination. These repertoires minimized the gendered nature of men and women's experiences and negated the use of context in favour of an abstract principle of individualism. Participants warranted their accounts through feminist arguments, two-sided argument formulations, and the construction of a dichotomy between individualist-equality and structuralist-discrimination-supporting the material practice of 'affirmative non-action', the active support of non-action. Relating the findings to equal opportunity policy, occupational cultural analyses and the discursive production of 'new sexism', the article identifies the absence of an account that conceptualizes both individual and structural facets of equality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-461
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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