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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sangster, "Just Horseplay? Masculinity and Workplace Grievances in Fordist Canada, 1947–70s"

In the Fall 2014 issue of Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, an article by Joan Sangster of Trent University, "Just Horseplay? Masculinity and Workplace Grievances in Fordist Canada, 1947–70s."


This article examines men’s grievances concerning horseplay, profanity, alcohol, and violence, primarily in their legal arbitrated form, as a means of probing the gendered nature of the Fordist system of grievance arbitration. Horseplay grievances, for instance, were infused with ideas about masculinity, with the majority dealing with male-on-male activities, usually among workers. In arbitration discourse, horseplay and violence were naturalized as essentially male behaviour. An examination of these “bad behavior” grievances highlights how the arbitration process was not only shaped profoundly by class but also by gender and, to a lesser extent, ethnocentric ideologies. Gender stereotypes and moralistic assumptions shaped the arguments and outcome of grievance arbitration, and, with each decision, the system became more legalized and bureaucratized, with gender norms firmly embedded in arbitration discourse. While some gender norms changed their form in the post-Fordist workplace, current grievances concerning horseplay indicate some continuity with the past and the persisting equation of working-class masculinity with violence, rough behaviour, and intimidation in the workplace.

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