15 Tension, Contradiction, and Paradox

(Wood and Conrad 1983)

Difficulties experienced by women in American labor force are studied under:

  • societal research: sex-role stereotypes

  • organizational perspective: organizational structures that are barriers

  • individualistic research: based on personalities and activities that make it difficult for women to be professionals.

Paradox, mystification, and the double-bind

Responses that Perpetuate the Double-binding Pattern

  • acceptance

  • counter-disqualification

  • withdrawal

Double-binds composed of:

  • type of relational situation: complementary relationship with unbalanced power structure

  • paradox-creating communication: mixed messages

  • responses (by person with less power) that solidify the pattern

Mystification: “the symbolic processes whereby one socio-economic group misrepresents action in order to maintain its hegemony over another socio-economic group.”

  • mystification is a manifestation of bullying

In Western culture, women’s stereotypical roles:

  • sex object,

  • pet

  • mother

  • iron maiden

Professional are thought of as:

  • rationality

  • power

  • decisiveness

  • activity

  • objectivity

  • toughness

Paradoxes in organizations:

  • powerlessness

  • marginality and minority

    • success can be attributed to ease of task, perseverance, not competence.

    • lone women status

  • self-definition

  • affirmative action

  • training programs

  • networks and mentor relationships

Responses to paradox:

  • responses that perpetuate the situation

    • acceptance

    • counter-disqualification

    • withdrawal

  • responses that redefine the situation

    • interpret in a fresh frame-of-reference

    • redirection

    • confrontation

  • responses that transcend the situation

(Angela Trethewey and Ashcraft 2004)

  • reframe organizational tension:

    • irrationality (e.g., paradox, contradiction, irony) is normal

    • irrationalities are gendered

    • irrationality is an applied concern

(Way 2019)

  • Youth Crew context

  • tension between youths and adults in summer camp

  • tension is a “‘feeling state,’ specifically the discomfort experienced by organizational members when they encounter organizational practices and structures that are contradictory or paradoxical.” (Putnam, Fairhurst, and Banghart 2016)

  • Youth work is just preparatory experience for future work.

  • Paradoxes

    • Providing vs. discounting oneself as worker

    • demanding confidence vs. orchestrating uncertainty

    • playing along vs. being playful

Acting to Alter Privilege by Maintaining the Structural-Performative Paradox by Sonja K. Foss

  • paradoxical perspectives on privilege—the structural and the performative

  • paradoxes of privileges:

    • dispersal-divestment: disperse privilege, but also divest it.

    • alteration-reproduction: when you try to combat prvilidge, it backfires