Drawing on a high profile case of unequal pay as an illustrative example as well as on recent research, this conceptual paper considers differences and interrelationships between merit and deservingness, where the latter captures how, through appropriate performances, merit is given recognition and value. We propose a performative understanding of deservingness that highlights its gendered and embodied dimensions. Informed by Judith Butler’s account of gender performativity, we show that, while merit may be seen as a relatively fixed set of attributes (qualifications, skill) ‘attached’ to the individual, deservingness captures how, in gendered terms, value and recognition are both claimed and conferred. As we argue, a gendered, deserving subject does not pre-exist but is performatively constituted through embodied practices and performances of what is seen as worthy in a particular time and place.
Kumra, SavitaLewis, PatriciaRumens, NickSimpson, Ruth
Oxford Brookes Business School
Year of publication: 2019Date of RADAR deposit: 2019-07-24
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