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Poverty, Inequality and Social Justice
The issues involved in poverty, inequality and social justice are many and varied, from basic access to education and healthcare, to the financial crisis and resulting austerity, and now COVID-19. Addressing Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 5: Gender Equality, Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities and Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, our list both presents research on these topics and tackles emerging problems. A key series in the area is the SSSP Agendas for Social Justice.
This focus has always been at the heart of our publishing with the view to making the research in this area as visible and accessible as possible in order to maximise its potential impact.
Bristol University Press and Policy Press are signed up to the UN SDG Publishers Compact. In Poverty, inequality and social justice, we aim to address the following goals:
This chapter explores the temporalities of gentrification, arguing that promises of inclusion can work to keep us hooked to a version of the present that actually forecloses an alternative vision of the future. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork and reflections collected after the redevelopment project’s ultimate approval, the chapter mobilizes temporality as a conceptual framework to focus on the active construction of multiple temporalities and the political work these do in (un)tying the past, present and future of the pub in the service of the normalization of dominant social relations. At the same time, I also argue that the kinds of socialities, relationships and friendships developed in trying to survive a violent present can lead to the creation of alternative queer utopias. These do not emerge from seeking inclusion within the dominant institutions and processes of capital accumulation, but from daring to imagine a queer future that overcomes the limits of the past and the up-beat, optimistic futures offered by gentrification.
This chapter sets the stage for the ethnographic work by following the emergence of corporate investments in LGBTQ+ diversity in tandem with a story about the gentrification of east London. I read investments in diversity made by east London’s wealthiest dwellers against the backdrop of growing inequalities, austerity policies, the closure of queer spaces and the exclusionary tendencies of neoliberal processes of capital accumulation for some of the area’s most marginalized inhabitants. In the chapter I bring these threads together in order to reconcile corporate investments in LGBTQ+ diversity with a broader critique of capitalism and its crises.
This chapter traces the emergence of a new brand of corporate diversity politics which, rather than requiring queer subjects to appear ‘virtually normal’ (Drucker, 2015), actually addresses them in their difference. I examine the emergence of queer difference as something that adds value not simply to the corporation but to the entrepreneurial queer self. The chapter documents fieldwork experiences at corporate LGBTQ+ networking events and, in particular, at the London chapter of the Lesbians Who Tech conference, a networking event catering to lesbian and queer women working in the world of tech. I argue that such events enshrine the neoliberal reconfiguration not only of queer labour but of queer life itself: the social, affective, inter-personal relations around which queer organizing unfolds. Ultimately, rallying queer people’s aspirations in capitalist economies, I argue that queer and lesbian tech CEOs and the corporate LGBTQ+ networking events that spawn them should be read as part of broader CEO-ization of the LGBTQ+ movement, whose interests have become increasingly aligned with those of corporations.
This chapter builds on the findings presented in the previous chapters to argue in favour of an approach to the politics of diversity that reconciles contemporary corporate investments in queer inclusion with redistributive demands. Drawing from Samuel Delany’s (1999) distinction between ‘networking’ and ‘contact’ in the city, I suggest that diversity politics, in its current neoliberal formulation, works against spaces of queer interclass contact in favour of more sterile queer networking spaces. I also argue that queer activists should care about the disappearance of queer spaces not simply as memories of a riotous past but as spaces of queerness and interclass contact for the future, rejecting claims that doing so is either backwards-looking or mere nostalgia. While the book is critical and pessimistic of diversity politics in its current neoliberal formulation, the stories of the participants featured in the project also reveal that queer subjects remain engaged in various struggles to make their lives more liveable and to acquire resources that enable the successful performance – and, sporadically, resistance to – the various norms and normativities underpinning promises of inclusion.
This chapter traces the ways in which diversity is ‘put to work’ in supposedly LGBTQ+ inclusive corporations, asking when this labour turns into a direct resource for labourers and/or for the corporation, and how and when it does not. I build my arguments by drawing from ethnographic interview encounters with employees in engaging in diversity work in supposedly inclusive workplace contexts. Focusing on the ways in which diversity work is experienced, negotiated and engaged, I problematize managerial readings of inclusivity by showing how doing diversity work comes with expectations about how differences are supposed to be laboriously performed and put to work in ways which are valuable to the corporation. I also problematize critical readings of inclusivity by arguing that queer subjects are not merely subordinate to diversity management but actively, creatively, strategically, exhaustingly and reluctantly engaging the politics of LGBTQ+ diversity in order to become included. Here distinctions between the cultural recognition of diverse gender/sexual subjects (inclusion) and economic matters of workplace redistribution (labour relations) are collapsed, exposing how managerial control in inclusive contexts is at once cultural and economic, operating through the labour involved in reproducing ‘queer value’.
In the 2010s, London’s LGBTQ+ scene was hit by extensive venue closures. For some, this represented the increased inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in society. For others, it threatened the city’s status as a ‘global beacon of diversity’ or merely reaffirmed the hostility of London’s neoliberal landscapes.
Navigating these competing realities, Olimpia Burchiellaro explores the queer politics of LGBTQ+ inclusion in London.
Drawing on ethnographic research conducted with activists, professionals and LGBTQ+ friendly businesses, the author reveals how gender and sexuality come to be reconfigured in the production and consumption of LGBTQ+ inclusion and its promises.
Giving voice to queer perspectives on inclusion, this is an important contribution to our understanding of urban policy, nightlife, neoliberalism and LGBTQ+ politics.
The book locates promises of inclusion in a longer trajectory of neoliberal capitalist accumulation, gentrification, and the emergence of an equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) industrial complex which seeks to extract the productive value of differences in pursuit of profit. Bringing together findings emerging from participant observation and open-ended interviews with queer activists and anti-gentrification campaigners, as well ‘career queers’ working in some of the world’s most powerful corporations, the book tells an ethnographic story unfolding across disparate queer worlds in London, offering a situated account of how queerness is currently becoming incorporated into the dominant institutions of capitalist modernity, and what goes into enabling certain inclusive openings for some while closing down others. Using the tension between new openings promised by LGBTQ-friendly corporations and the closure of LGBTQ+ spaces in London as its driving force, the book suggests that neoliberal promises of inclusion engender forms of gentrification – both of queer activism and of queer spaces – that are ultimately at odds with a genuinely transformative vision for queer leftist politics. In so doing the book joins discussions in queer studies, organization studies, urban planning, anthropology and LGBTQ+ studies on the relationship between queerness, identity politics and capitalism. It tries to convince critics of capitalism that following these queer discussions is important and urgent, and attempts to give radical, queer and LGBTQ+ activists the tools to locate opportunities for resistance, co-optation and doing inclusion otherwise in the pursuit of alternative (queer) futures.
This chapter shifts the analytic lens from the corporate world to the social world of queer anti-gentrification activists and their struggle to resist the closure of a local gay pub as part of a redevelopment project. The chapter traces how a promise to reinclude a replacement LGBTQ+ venue on the site of the pub became such a site of contention. I draw from fieldwork conducted with the Friends of the Joiners Arms to trace the ‘straightening’ tendencies that inclusion has on queerness. Such ‘straightening tendencies’ work to bring queer desire and ways of inhabiting space and time back into line with the normative spatio-temporal logics of capital. The pub’s queerness was rendered unintelligible by the celebratory rhetoric of LGBTQ+ inclusion and the broader process of gentrification through which the pub was intended to be redeveloped. I argue that the story shows how inclusion can involve a merely instrumental recognition of difference which limits who and/or what can be(come) included according to capitalist logics. The chapter sheds light on the class politics of inclusion as well as some of the limits of doing inclusion within a broader context of gentrification.
This book set out to explore flexible working in a more critical way, asking the question whether flexible working actually provides positive outcomes for workers in terms of work-life balance, workers’ well-being and gender equality as many expect it to. The results of the previous chapters show that paradoxically rather than improving workers’ work-life balance, flexible working increased feelings of conflict between work and family. The reason behind this phenomenon was explained through the flexibility paradox, that flexible working can lead to further exploitation of workers’ labour. This exploitation pattern is gendered. Men expanded their employment hours, namely overtime hours, to fulfil their ideal worker and breadwinner masculine image. Women expanded their unpaid working hours, namely increased time spent on housework and childcare adhering to the social norms around their roles as caregivers. What is more, due to these gendered patterns of flexible working or more so the assumptions behind such patterns, women end up being penalised further when working flexibly despite the fact that they are also likely to work longer and harder on their paid work when working flexibly.
However, I have also shown that the take-up and outcomes of flexible working largely depends on the contexts in which it is used. The way we think about work, work-life balance, and gender roles, workers’ bargaining power and insecurity all help shape the outcomes of flexible working. The book also showed that as flexible working becomes more widely used, we see a shift in the attitudes towards flexible working – namely through the decline in flexibility stigma.
One of the key findings drawn from the previous chapter was that as flexible working becomes more widespread, people are less likely to hold stigmatised views against flexible workers, and it is less likely to lead to negative outcomes in terms of work-life balance. The results were based on cross-national studies which meant that although we do see strong associations we cannot guarantee the direction of the relationship (for example, which came first, stigma or prevalence of flexible working?). We also cannot be certain if the more widespread use of flexible working or changes in contexts are the real causes or if it has to do with something else we failed to observe.1 In other words, the question arises whether we would see positive changes to flexible working practices in countries like the UK and the US if we were to change some of the contexts. These are difficult questions to answer given that cultures, policies and the take-up of flexible working do not usually change rapidly enough for us to properly answer them.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened and provided us with a very unique experimental opportunity to answer some of these difficult questions: What happens if a large group of workers starts working from home? How would this sudden rise of flexible working change stigmatised views towards flexible workers? How would this change the flexibility paradox patterns we have observed previously? How would this change the gender dynamics of the outcomes of flexible working?