Interpellating with dystopian fiction: A critical discourse analysis technique to disrupt hegemonic masculinity

Mark Gatto, Jamie Callahan

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Introduction Dystopian fiction (DF) speculates on ‘the hegemonic order and… resistance’ (Baccolini & Moylan, 2003). When researching gender in organisational contexts, unconventional methods can enable researchers to look again from a new critical angle and challenge the primacy of mainstream qualitative research by using a critical genre. DF provides a lens for critical discourse analysis/CDA (Fairclough, 2013) enabling researchers in identifying ideological influences and proposing acts of resistance and change inspired by the genre. Background This research method expands on research promoting storytelling and fiction in managerial and organisational research (e.g. Rhodes & Brown, 2005). By positioning this method in an abstract space, we hope to generate creative solutions to enduring ’wrongs’(Fairclough, 2013). Dystopian Fiction – a Conceptual Framework Identifying DF tropes guides this method as illustrated by two related examples. Firstly, fertility appears in some prominent dystopian novels (e.g. James, 2018 "The Children of Men") as an existential threat. Secondly, dystopian ‘hegemonic masculinity’ (Connell, 2005) presents masculine oppression of population groups. Framing our analysis around these tropes enables enquiry beyond the empirical data and speculate about the insidious motives reproducing the fertility ‘wrong’. Method CDA integrates micro, miso and macro level discourse and can reveal markers of ideological influence through lexical, organisational, and societal influences. CDA typically involves an intentional focus on social wrongs (e.g. injustices and inequalities), barriers, systemic aspects of the ‘wrong’ and promotes ways to circumnavigate these ‘wrongs’(Fairclough, 2013). Using illustrative examples with working parents, this CDA examines parental decision making and demonstrates how DF can enhance CDA methods. This method also enables us to consider the possible fictional allegories for our findings and draw comparisons with our contemporary ‘wrong’ to disrupt the masculine workplace paradigm as a subversive change agent. Conclusion This method aspires to the liminal spaces in between fiction and reality, where greater insights into our ideological influences may exist and we can glean important lessons towards a speculative pathway of resistance and change. References Baccolini, R., & Moylan, T. (2003). Introduction. Dystopia and Histories. In R. Baccolini & T. Moylan (Eds.), Dark horizons: science fiction and the utopian imagination. London: Routledge. Connell, R. W. (2005). Masculinities. Berkley and Los Angeles, California: Polity Press. Fairclough, N. (2013). Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language: Routledge. James, P. D. (2018). The Children of Men: Faber & Faber. Rhodes, C., & Brown, A. D. (2005). Writing responsibly: Narrative fiction and organization studies. Organization, 12(4), 467-491.


ConferenceJUC Public Administration Annual Conference 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityNewcastle upon Tyne
Internet address


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