Towards a performative understanding of deservingness: merit, gender and the BBC pay dispute

Kumra, Savita, Lewis, Patricia, Rumens, Nick and Simpson, Ruth ORCID: (2019) Towards a performative understanding of deservingness: merit, gender and the BBC pay dispute. Gender, Work and Organization . ISSN 0968-6673 [Article] (Published online first) (doi:10.1111/gwao.12397)

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Drawing largely on a high profile case of unequal pay at the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) as an illustrative example, this conceptual paper considers differences and interrelationships between merit and deservingness, where the latter captures how, through appropriate performances, merit is given recognition and value. We propose a performative understanding of deservingness that highlights its gendered and embodied dimensions. Informed by Judith Butler's account of gender performativity, we show that, while merit is conventionally conceptualized as a relatively fixed set of attributes (qualifications, skill) ‘attached' to the individual, deservingness captures how, in gendered terms, value and recognition are both claimed and conferred. As we argue, a gendered, deserving subject does not pre‐exist but is performatively constituted through embodied practices and performances of what is seen as worthy in a particular time and place.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The published article is available on open access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License from the journal website:
Keywords (uncontrolled): Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, Gender Studies
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Leadership, Work and Organisations > Diversity and Gender group
Item ID: 26909
Notes on copyright: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:Kumra, S, Lewis, P, Rumens, N, Simpson, R. Towards a Performative Understanding of Deservingness: Merit, Gender and the BBC Pay Dispute. Gender Work Organ. 2019., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions
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Depositing User: Jisc Publications Router
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2019 07:59
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2021 05:53

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