Vocations and Learning

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 281–295 | Cite as

Caring and Daring Discourses at Work: Doing Gender Through Occupational Choices in Elderly Care and Police Work

  • Andreas Fejes
  • Ulrika Haake
Original Paper


This paper aims to problematise how gender is being done—1. through occupational choices in two occupations that are traditionally gender divided, elderly care and police work, and 2. through the division of work assignments in police work. Interviews with care workers and police officers are analysed using a “doing gender” perspective, a post-structural notion of subjectivity inspired by Michel Foucault and positioning theory. We argue that a caring discourse operates in elderly care workers’ and police officers’ statements concerning occupational choices, while a daring discourse operates in statements concerning occupational choices within police work. Through these discourses, gender is being done in different ways; caring dispositions are constructed as totally female within the context of elderly care but as more gender-neutral in police work. At the same time, a macho or daring attitude is constructed as a male attribute in police work. Such constructions may have social consequences in terms of dividing work tasks for police, where male officers work in more prestigious and “dangerous” areas, while female officers are left with less prestigious, more caring-associated working areas.


Doing gender Foucault Elderly care work Police work Occupational choice 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Linköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  2. 2.Umeå UniversityUmeåSweden

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