Chapter 6: Reflections on Researching Inequalities and Intersectionality
Geraldine Healy INTRODUCTION In this chapter I reflect on approaches I have used (alone or with others) in researching inequalities and on the entrenched resilience of inequality practices and processes in organisations at the beginning of the 21st century. It is clear that the resilience of inequality practices is a global challenge. From a gender perspective, ‘there is not a single country in the world today where women have the same opportunities as men, and although progress has been made in some areas in recent years, women are still disadvantaged in economic and political life’ (Socialwatch, 2006). Yet gender is only one part of the inequalities picture; race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, disability and age are all important in understanding the nature of inequalities. Thinking on inequalities has increasingly focused on the importance of grounding research work in an intersectional approach to enable a deep understanding of mechanisms that underpin the resilient nature of inequalities. It is on this I seek to focus my discussion, drawing on recent empirical work – in particular, that on the intersection of sex and ethnicity. Much of this work has been done with a range of colleagues so I tend to use the first person plural in referring to research work.1 For a definition of inequality in organisations, I turn to Acker, who conceptualises inequality as the systematic disparities between participants in power and control over goals, resources and outcomes, workplace decisions, such as how to organise work, opportunities for promotion and interesting work, security in...
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