Heroism and as Injurious Speech: Recognition, precarity and inequality in health and social care work

The Essex Accounting Centre warmly invite guest speaker Professor Melissa Tyler from the Essex Business School to discuss her work on Judith Butler's writing on precarity and the interpellatory power of naming.

  • Wed 2 Feb 22

    14:00 - 16:00

  • Online

    Join this seminar

  • Event speaker

    Professor Melissa Tyler, Essex Business School

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) Research Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Chaoyuan She

The aim of the Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) research seminar series is to support our world class research activities in five key areas: accounting and global development; capital markets, audit, regulation and reporting; publicness and resilience, precarity, exclusion and social justice; and environment, climate change and vulnerability. The seminar series is also expected to promote interdisciplinary research that links the work of members of the centre with others both within the university and with external institutions.

Seminar abstract

This seminar draws on Judith Butler’s (2009, 1997) writing on precarity and the interpellatory power of naming, re-read through her recent writing on the dynamics of recognition, vulnerability, and resistance (Butler, 2016, 2020), to develop a critique of the discourse of heroism used to position health and social care professionals, and other key workers, during the COVID pandemic.

It does so in order to reflect on the insights into workplace inequalities that this example provides, in particular into what, to borrow from Butler, we might think of as the conditions necessary for a workable life.

It argues that, although it might seem paradoxical, the heroic discourses and symbolism used to recognize health and social care workers throughout the pandemic can be understood as a form of ‘injurious speech’ in Butler’s terms, one that served to Other keyworkers by subjecting them to a reified, rhetorical form of recognition.

The analysis argues that this had the effect of undermining health and care workers’ capacity to challenge and resist this positioning, foreclosing their ability to call to account a form of recognition that accentuated their precarity.


How to join this seminar

This seminar free to attend with no need to register in advance.

Please join us online on Wednesday 2 February 2022 at 2pm (GMT)

We welcome you to share this seminar with your friends, colleagues and classmates.


Speaker abstract

Melissa Tyler is a Professor of Work and Organization Studies in the Organization Studies/HRM group in Essex Business School, and is co-director of the Centre for Work, Organization and Society (CWOS) and of the CWOS Future of Creative Work research cluster.

Her current research includes a project, with Philip Hancock, focusing on the impact of COVID on self-employed/freelance live performers in the UK. Melissa’s recent books include Soho at Work: Pleasure and Place in Contemporary London (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and Judith Butler and Organization Theory (Routledge, 2019).

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