Gender and the Public Sector: Professionals and Managerial Change

By Jim Barry; Mike Dent et al. | Go to book overview

5

Identifying the professional 'man'ager

Masculinity, professionalism and the search for legitimacy

Stephen Whitehead

Introduction

Critical examinations of professionalism have an intermittent history, usually being adjunctive to ongoing debates concerned with, for example, new managerialism (Busher and Saran 1995; Clarke and Newman, 1996); new work practices (Legge 1995); and the intersections of work and capitalist systems (Thompson 1983). Partly as a consequence of both this relative marginalisation in mainstream organisational analysis and the dominance of 'realist' labour process perspectives (O'Doherty and Willmott 1998), studies of professionalism and professionals have often remained locked in notions of ideological practice (Elliott 1975; Collins 1979; Murphy 1988). Moreover, much of the literature on the professional and professionalism has been presented without reference to gender (Davies 1996). Where critical analysis of women's relationship to professional practice has taken place, it has, as Davies (1996) notes, largely drawn on the notions of closure and exclusion central to realist labour process perspectives (see, for example, Crompton 1987; Witz 1990; Witz 1992). Consequently, while such studies have made important contributions to illuminating the gendered characteristics of professional practices, there has been little subsequent examination of professionalism in relation to gendered subjectivity and identity. This gap in academic knowledge is particularly acute in respect of masculinities and the professional manager. Thus, while feminist studies have exposed the gendered character of professions, giving a critique of the previously unproblematised synonymity of men and professionalism, little attention has been given to the ways in which masculinity and men's subjectivities combine to form and define dominant notions of professionalism within the managerial context (see Davies (1996) and Kerfoot (2001) for discussion).

Recognising that gendered identity work is a central element of occupational and organisational dynamics, this chapter undertakes a re-evaluation of the concept of professionalism. In so doing, the intention is to contribute to a deconstruction of the term professional(ism), away from dualistic accounts of autonomy and regulation, while concurring with those feminist scholars who argue that gender is a key feature of professionals and notions of professional practice (Crompton and Sanderson 1986; Davies 1996). In attempting

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Gender and the Public Sector: Professionals and Managerial Change
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements xvi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Contexts and Networks 13
  • 1 - New Labour, Governance and the Politics of Diversity 15
  • Notes 25
  • 2 - Gendered States, Critical Engagements 27
  • 3 - Managing Transformation? 44
  • 4 - Gender, Welfare Regimes and the Medical Profession in France and Greece 65
  • Notes 80
  • Part II - Managing Professional Work 83
  • 5 - Identifying the Professional 'Man'Ager 85
  • 6 - Women's Positioning in a Bureaucratic Environment 104
  • 7 - Plural Frames of Work in Public Sector Organisations 120
  • Note 133
  • 8 - On the Front Line 136
  • 9 - Hard Nosed or Pink and Fluffy? 154
  • References 168
  • 10 - Ministering Angels and the Virtuous Profession 170
  • References 184
  • Part III - Identity and Biography 187
  • 11 - Gendered Narratives of the Management of Residential Care Homes 189
  • 12 - The Problematic Professional 205
  • References 216
  • Index 218
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