Literature Review of Queer Theory

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Introduction

As being developed by poststructuralism, feminism, lesbian & gay studies and even American pragmatist theory (Parker,2001; Seidman,1997), queer theory has become one of the most important theories, which contributes to the research of sociology, arts and organizations. On the one hand, queer theory has been used to study the relations between the sexuality, gender and workplace. On the other hand, by utilizing denaturalized, deconstructive and performative methods to queer the presumptions of the taken-for-granted norms, queer theorists question and disprove the traditions which people cherish (Seidman,1995).

The purpose of this review is to narrate and provide the details of published academic studies about the contributions that queer theorists have made to the research of management. In the fist part, the features of queer theory, such as, sexuality and gender are culturally and historically constructed, identity is not fixed but fluid and norms, especially the taken-for-granted binaries of gender and sexuality, are disrupted, will be introduced. Then the contributions of the queer theory to the study of management will be specifically discussed. This part can be divided into three sections. Firstly, queer theory provides an alternative way for advancing management research both in academics and in everyday practice. Secondly, queer theorists provide a kind of language that can explain the previous unspoken phenomenon. Thirdly, queer theory can be useful for diversity management, especially in setting up a welcomed and opened workplace for lesbians and gays. In the last part, the limitations of queer theory will be analyzed, for example, queer theory is too abstract to put into practice; the destabilized approach which queer theorists insist will result in the segregation of people and queer theorists may ignore the studies of lesbians.

Main characteristics of queer theory

Queer theory emerged during the 1990s, focusing on not only searching for the new thinking and theorizing ways to queer the taken-for-granted traditions, but also exploring the relations between sexuality, gender and workplace. The main features are as follows:

Firstly, queer theorists believe that gender and sexuality are historically and culturally constructed, disagreeing the conventional idea that gender and sexuality are considered as stable and natural identities. On the one hand, Queer theorists think that sexuality is not only historical or cultural but also the product of discourses and power that shows the fact that queer theory has been significantly influenced by Foucault’s work. Foucault (1978) stated that heterosexuality and homosexuality are not natural or fixed. In The history of sexuality, Volume1, Foucault has proved that sexuality is historically and culturally constructed and it is the product of power and discourses. Then the same conclusion has also been noted by Plummer (1982) and Stein (1989), who claimed that sexuality is produced by discourse and social relations. In addition, Gamson and Moon (2004) claimed that sexuality is a series of historical and cultural processes that allow desires to be organized and expressed. Sexuality is also created by language. Sedgwick (1991) argued that it is the language that makes sexuality existed owing to the performative influence of words. On the other hand, gender is socially constructed. As Beauvoir (1974) suggested, one is not born a male, but develops to be one in the cultural constraint; in other words, gender is culturally and historically established. Moreover, queer theory develops out of the feminism. Judith Butler (1990) who has prominently influenced queer theory and moved beyond the idea that gender is socially constructed, describing gender as the performance. She stated that, in order to constitute the identity, gender is performatively created to be a doing.

Secondly, queer theorists insist on the thought that identity is fluid and...
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