Sara Zaeemdar

Postfeminist technologies of authenticity: Examining the construction of authentic feminine selves in the neoliberal workplace

  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting

This paper examines how the neoliberal injunction to be authentic as addressed to working women operates at the level of the individual. Drawing on Foucault’s framing of self-construction, the paper conceptualizes the quest for the authentic feminine self as a technology of the self which enables women to work upon transformation of their subjectivity to attain a state of authenticity. The developed conceptual framework is applied in an in-depth structural and content analysis of work-life narratives of authenticity related by women training and development professionals. These narratives are a part of the field material collected during a two-year ethnographic study of the sector. Derived from theoretical and empirical analysis, the paper develops the notion of postfeminist technologies of authenticity which demonstrate the quest for the authentic feminine self as aligned with postfeminism, a neoliberal sensibility under which individualized and retraditionalized notions of femininity are constructed. Authenticity is therefore shown as a gendered form of control which works upon women’s self-construction in regressive ways contributing to the reproduction of gendered work, organizations, and power relations.

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