Purpose: Privilege is often silent, invisible and not made explicit, and silence is a key question for theorizing on organizations. This paper examines interrelations between privilege and silence for relatively privileged professionals in high-intensity knowledge businesses (KIBs). Design/methodology/approach: This paper draws on 112 interviews in two rounds of interviews using the collaborative interactive action research method. The analysis focuses on processes of recruitment, careers and negotiation of boundaries between work and nonwork in these KIBs. The authors study how relative privilege within social inequalities connects with silences in multiple ways, and how the invisibility of privilege operates at different levels: individual identities and interpersonal actions of privilege (micro), as organizational level phenomena (meso) or as societally constructed (macro). Findings: At each level, privilege is reproduced in part through silence. The authors also examine how processes connecting silence, privilege and social inequalities operate differently in relation to both disadvantage and the disadvantaged, and privilege and the privileged. Originality/value: This study is relevant for organization studies, especially in the kinds of “multi-privileged” contexts where inequalities, disadvantages and subordination may remain hidden and silenced, and, thus, are continuously reproduced.
|Number of pages
|Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal
|Early online date
|14 Jul 2020
|Published - 15 Oct 2020