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Governing through accountability: Gendered moral selves and the (im)possibilities of resistance in the neoliberal university

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Drawing on Judith Butler's early work on gender as performance and her later work on the ethically accountable subject, this study examines the production of gendered moral subjects under neoliberal governance in contemporary academia. The analysis of 40 semi-structured in-depth interviews with postdoc researchers and assistant, associate and full professors in a Belgian university reveals how in academics’ narratives of their ethical relations of (non-)accountability towards multiple stakeholders, gendered subjects are performed along the heterosexual matrix reproducing the gender binary. The conjunction of gendered and ethical demands imposed through relations of accountability further opens up distinctively gendered possibilities of consent and resistance under neoliberal governance. We advance the extant literature on gender in academia which largely focuses on women's symbolic struggle to (dis)identify with a masculine professional norm. By locating power in the gendered relations of accountability towards multiple others, it re-conceptualizes gender as an ontological struggle in the constitution of the self as moral along gendered norms. The study rejoins recent scholarship that calls for the recognition and elaboration of a relational ethics by showing how such ethics enables the emergence of open and responsive subjectivities in relations of accountability.
Journal: Gender, Work and Organization
ISSN: 0968-6673
Issue: 4
Volume: 26
Pages: 411 - 429
Publication year:2019