Masculinities in working parent discourses: a dystopian fiction inspired subversive fictocriticism of patriarchal organisations

Gatto, Mark James (2021) Masculinities in working parent discourses: a dystopian fiction inspired subversive fictocriticism of patriarchal organisations. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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What is the problem?
Despite UK government legislation to promote equality in the workplace e.g., Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and flexible work, the gender pay and care gaps continue to favour men over women (ONS, 2020; UK Government, 2020b). Uptake of UK SPL in 2020 was 2% of eligible couples (Howlett), which signals cultural and structural barriers. The existence of ‘masculine organisations’ (Acker, 1990) may explain this problem. Masculine organisations are microcosms of patriarchy, which maintain hegemonic masculinity (HM) as the ‘most honoured way of being a man’ (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005). This patriarchal ‘gender norm’ (Butler, 2011) perpetuates the ‘motherhood penalty’ (Brearley, 2021) and ‘patriarchal deficit’ (Bailey, 2015), which negatively impacts all working parents, and their employers by association.

This thesis uses dystopian fiction (DF) to ‘blur the lines’ between fictional and empirical data (Phillips, Pullen, & Rhodes, 2014). DF is used as a critical and creative instrument for socialjustice- oriented qualitative research. Three DF tropes inform a conceptual framework: Masculinity, Subversion and Parenthood. Aligned with these tropes, Masculinities theory (Connell, 2005) is used to explore the spectrum of working parenthood experiences within ‘masculine organisations’ (J. Acker, 1990). Empirical data is generated from interviews with 19 working parents connected to one organisation. Althusser’s (2014) interpretation of ideology and ‘interpellation’ informs a critical discourse analysis (CDA) (Fairclough, 2013). Finally, the ‘dystopian “fictocriticism”’ (Rhodes, 2015) chapter is the subversive climax of this counternarrative of masculine organisations.

Culture and policy play a significant role in constraining or enabling working parents’ sense of justice. Participants cited limited parental leave and flexible working, work intensification, and patriarchal norms as negative influences. There were many examples of ‘interpellation’ to traditional social roles (Eagly, Wood, & Diekman, 2000) between working parents, suggesting individuals and employers are relationally interconnected in reproducing patriarchy. One important finding was the collegiality between working parents that signified existing informal networks.

Primary implications for practice include: increasing paid parental leave; greater flexibility; & more explicit HR guidance for line manager. Cultural recommendations include a staff-led ‘Parents and Carers network’ to foster more inclusive culture for working parents. This thesis extends masculinities theory by explicitly including working parenthood to compare negative influences of patriarchy and ‘HM’, with egalitarian ‘caring masculinities’ as a subversive ‘rejection of domination’ (Elliott, 2016) in ‘masculine organisations’. Finally, using DF is a subversive methodological contribution both within CDA, and as a contemporary feminist approach to ‘writing differently’ (Gilmore et al., 2019).

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fictocriticism, Masculinities, Working Parents, Dystopian Fiction, Subversion
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
N100 Business studies
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2021 08:44
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2021 08:45

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