Occupational stigma among further education teaching staff in hair and beauty: Mild but challenging

Oonagh Harness*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


This article explores how Further Education (FE) lecturers and trainers manage a mild stigma that socially taints their work through a discourse intersecting gender and class. To frame their experiences, I draw upon identity work tactics established within the dirty work literature. Through an interview and observational study, the potency of cultural imagery and discourse is shown to manifest as a stigma. This stigma differentiates those associated with hair and beauty work by imposing discrediting tropes pertaining to skill, class status, and social value. Lecturers and trainers become tainted by proxy through the association with an industry and interaction with bodies that are discredited through a gender-class discourse. Through close proximal positioning to a tainted subject matter, FE lecturers and trainers rely upon esteem-enhancing strategies to minimize discrediting assumptions. The students they teach may embody stigma through tainted attributes that signal working-class femininity, yet they enable FE lecturers and trainers to minimize taint by drawing from an alternate discourse that celebrates upward cultural mobility and a more refined iteration of femininity. By broadening the landscape of stigma to recognize it as milder than its extreme theorization in dirty work, this article explores discourse and representation as a centralizing source of stigma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1526-1541
Number of pages16
JournalGender, Work & Organization
Issue number5
Early online date20 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


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