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The co-construction of multi-ethnic occupational communities under unsafe and demanding work conditions: The case of railway maintenance teams in Brussels

Ould Kherroubi Hacine-Bey, Mehdi (2019) The co-construction of multi-ethnic occupational communities under unsafe and demanding work conditions: The case of railway maintenance teams in Brussels. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Abstract

Despite a substantial literature on occupational communities (OCs) (eg., Campbell et al., 2016; Marschall, 2012; Van Maanen, 2010), the influence of ethnic diversity on identity formation in communities has been overlooked even though ethnic diversity in Western countries is increasing. Drawing on an organisational ethnography of multi-ethnic railway maintenance teams in a Belgian public-owned company (RailBe) in Brussels, this study offers a constructivist approach by mobilizing the literature on organisational culture, subculture, masculinity, ethnicity and working conditions to understand the criteria that define the identity of ethnically diverse OCs. This study reveals that older white workers defined the criteria that homogenised and identified multi-ethnic work teams doing highly dangerous and physically demanding work. These criteria were shown to be (un)covert values (e.g., masculinity), norms (e.g., sexual practices), codes (e.g., not to implicate colleagues), behaviours (e.g., willingness) and language (e.g., acceptance of discriminatory jokes). However, due to the historical composition of these work teams in terms of gender and ethnicity, this homogeneity was perturbed by the discrimination process that occurred through the masculinity value and at several stages of the work process such as the transmission of knowledge and know-how, the allocation of tasks and the allocation of working hours. This discrimination process was the result of the views of reference group members who perceived that ethnic minority rail workers were not sharing the same masculinity value and were present because of company diversity policy that diminished their status at work. In this sense, this study highlights the importance of the environment and the reference group on the creation and the maintaining of cohesion in social groups. In addition, this study points out the complex interplay between gender, ethnicity and history related to masculinity in a blue-collar community and the necessity to distinguish the discourse and the practices related to the value’s construction in multi-ethnic work teams. Implications for organizational ethnographers are discussed including how the process of introduction to the community influences access to data.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: diversity, ethnicity, occupational communities, organisational ethnography, physical work, rites of passage, work conditions
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Schools: Huddersfield Business School
Depositing User: Andrew Strike
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2019 10:17
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2019 10:17
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/35015

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