|Title||LGBT-friendliness & the Promise of Inclusion: A Queering Ethnography of Inclusion in the ‘Diversity World’ of Business and the Social World of ‘Queer Activism’ in London|
The thesis adopts a queer perspective to explore how the discourse of LGBT-friendliness and its promises of inclusion are experienced by the subjects to whom these are supposedly intended to speak to. It does so by drawing on over eighteen months of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork carried out in London in the ‘diversity world’ of business among LGBT professionals, role models, ‘straight allies’ and ‘diversity & inclusion specialists’, and in the social world of ‘queer activism’ with campaigners fighting against the closure of a ‘queer pub’ by property developers and the Council’s promise to include a ‘replacement LGBT venue’ in the redevelopment. The thesis sheds light on how the process of inclusion is intricately connected to neoliberal practices of capital accumulation and the ways in which corporations attempt to extract the (queer) ‘value’ of ‘diversity’. It also shows how inclusion is inflected by a host of intersectional racialized and classed embodiments and (hetero- homo- and cis-) normativities. In so doing, the thesis contributes to our (empirical) understanding of the lived experiences of organizational gender/sexuality by providing an ethnographically-grounded account of the operation and negotiation of ‘LGBT-friendly’ normativities, to the (theoretical) scholarship that aims to make sense of these by offering a ‘critically queer’ theorizing of the concept, rhetoric and practice of LGBT inclusion, and to the (methodological) queering of organization. Ultimately, I argue that whilst LGBT inclusion may surely be considered a desirable (and highly seductive) goal, it is not only questionable whether and how far this may actually dismantle normativities, but also that inclusion might even exacerbate and accentuate their (re)production, sustaining conditions of inequality, ‘unfriendliness’ and exclusion. This demonstrates the value of combining critical interests on the exclusionary dynamics of ‘inclusion’ with a queer sensibility on the performativity of gender/sexuality and scholarship on the gender/sexual politics of neoliberalism, thus problematizing and queering corporate actors’ investments in ‘inclusion’ and the relationship between ‘activism’ and ‘business’, and developing and politicizing extant interrogations of ‘LGBT-friendliness’ in the field.
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