Ambiguity, uncertainty, and othering: a queer phenomenology of the organizational socialization of sexuality
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Despite the many frames, metaphors, and lenses in the organizational communication discipline, we have yet to examine the lived experience of sexuality in the workplace. The experience of socializing to the sexual norms of professional workspaces has yet to be considered within the Communication Discipline. Through queer hermeneutic phenomenology, the present study explores the socialization of sexuality in the workplace across an array of sexual orientations and gender identities. How we are introduced to and make sense of sexuality at work was the primary thrust of this project. Interactive interviews resulted in a co-authoring of knowledge regarding discursive constructions of sexuality and sexual identity in the workplace. Results are reported in three parts: First, age, gender and location emerged as ironic and ambiguous stereotypes used to describe sexuality at work. These stereotypes function as discursive dividing lines among social groups within the workplace. Then, nondiscrimination policy surfaced as a tool for reducing and managing uncertainty about sexuality. Sexual and gender minorities were far more aware of the nature and parameters of workplace policies, compared to their hetertypical counterparts. Finally, discourses of family served as a point of meaning divergence resulting in an othering of LGBT, single, and otherwise queer organization members. Specifically, despite calls for diversity, discursive constructions of "family" remain largely heteronormative. Implications including the need to further interrogate nondiscrimination policy and develop more inclusive family discourses are provided.
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