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Men in Finance for Emancipatory Social Change?

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Masculine Power and Gender Equality: Masculinities as Change Agents
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Abstract

This chapter addresses the question of how men contribute to achieving gender equality and, more broadly, emancipatory change, by focusing on a social group that is usually less associated with emancipatory change and critique, and more with the (re)production of hegemonic masculinity and the hegemony of men: men in leading positions in the financial sector. It uses a threefold perspective on the political dimension of gender: concerning a person’s mode of existence, their agency and concerning the political constitution of the social. This question of how men in leading positions in the financial sector struggle with and question gender relations in their workplace, and the role their industry plays in society, is followed up by analysing two published autobiographical books by men who were in prestigious senior positions in the financial sector. They describe (self)critical reflections on their work and life. These autobiographies show how the ‘personal is political, gendered and economic’, to adapt the feminist slogan, from their specific inside angle and thereby offer insights into potentials and challenges for gender equality as an aspect of emancipatory change on an individual, institutional and societal level.

With contributions by Ashley Brooks, Rosemary Lobban, Sam Martin, and Daragh McDermott.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This analysis is part of my ongoing PhD project on critical (self)reflections by men in leading positions in the financial sector. My material consists of five autobiographical books by men who wrote about their experience working in Zurich, Frankfurt, London and New York (see also Thym 2018) and over 20 interviews with men who are or were employed in senior positions in internationally operating Swiss financial institutions.

  2. 2.

    A linguistic analysis of the form of the autobiographical representation (Koller, 2012, p. 120) would also be insightful, but is here only applied selectively.

  3. 3.

    Anderson (2010, p. 7) mentions that he uses pseudonyms for individuals and institutions to protect himself from possible legal consequences and because he does not aim at criticizing individuals and institutions, but the City culture in general. The pseudonyms he chooses for the banks he works for, the French Banque Inutile, the German Scheissebank and the US-American Megashite, mirror his retrospective disrespect for them. His own pseudonym ‘Jones’ may be a reference to the idiom ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, which refers to a desire or failure to keep up with one’s peers, and to obtain status and wealth.

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Acknowledgment

For helpful feedback I would like to thank Jeff Hearn and the Center for Feminist Social Studies, Örebro University, Andrea Maihofer, Birgit Sauer, Sophie Bürgi, Walter Hoffmann, Oliver Braunschweig and the reviewers.

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Correspondence to Anika Thym .

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Thym, A. (2020). Men in Finance for Emancipatory Social Change?. In: Luyt, R., Starck, K. (eds) Masculine Power and Gender Equality: Masculinities as Change Agents. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-35162-5_5

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