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Institutions and OrganizationsA Process View$
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Trish Reay, Tammar B. Zilber, Ann Langley, and Haridimos Tsoukas

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198843818

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198843818.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 13 December 2019

Stories of (and Instead of) Process

Stories of (and Instead of) Process

Chapter:
(p.61) 5 Stories of (and Instead of) Process
Source:
Institutions and Organizations
Author(s):

Francesca Polletta

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198843818.003.0005

Policy makers are well aware that the categories and standards they use to combat inequality are blunt tools, flattening differences within groups and fixing relations in time; they draw on stories of the categories’ past and purpose as a way to justify their use. However, the stories that come naturally are ill-equipped to capture the processual dimensions of inequality. Polletta makes this argument by analyzing two efforts to combat inequality, one in medical research and one in employment. In the first, reformers’ account of racial and ethnic categories as the proud legacy of the civil rights movement and as only temporary ended up legitimating a view of inequalities in health as genetic in origin. In the second, women were able to prove employment discrimination only when they told a story in which their job aspirations were unaffected by their experiences in the labor market. In both cases, familiar stories made it difficult to recognize processes rather than people as the drivers of action, and to recognize that people’s aspirations are shaped by the institutions in which they participate.

Keywords:   equality, policy, employment discrimination, organizations, institutions

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