A Fantasy of the "Ambitious Young Girl" as Flexible Knowledge-worker Subject
2012 (English)In: NORA: Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, ISSN 0803-8740, E-ISSN 1502-394X, Vol. 20, no 4, 249-265 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
One of the paradoxes of the so-called flexible work environments of late capitalism is that, at the same time as tribute is paid to organizational and work-force flexibility in terms of increased empowerment and freedom for workers to make their own decisions, there is also a strong emphasis on controlling their work. These ways of governing and controlling work have been problematized within critical organizational studies and analysed and conceptualized as audit regimes and audit cultures. Furthermore, feminist research highlights how the hegemonization of flexible work ideologies may result in declining health for employees and increased gender inequalities in the labour market.This article contributes to these critical strands of research by examining some of the gendered aspects of the ideological forces that work to install everyday work practices of "flexible subjects". The analysis is done by studying the means of knowledge-work fantasies, and especially the ideological forces behind the fantasy of the "ambitious young girl".I draw on feminist critiques of neo-liberalism and neo-liberal practices and, more specifically, theories of the professional investment that is supposedly common in neo-liberal discourses. The source material that laid the foundations for this article was gathered from within a more extensive ethnographic study where I followed the relocation of a knowledge-intensive civil service agency from the capital of Sweden to a smaller town northwest of the capital.The analysis shows that, in the process of moving work-place, employees became invested in a fantasy of "ambitious girls", a fantasy that entailed certain expectations of flexible and mouldable civil service workers in neo-liberal times.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 20, no 4, 249-265 p.
Research subject Ethnology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-58884DOI: 10.1080/08038740.2012.747787OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-58884DiVA: diva2:550280
ProjectsDecentralization of governemnt agencies, work force mobility and rural development