Sexuality and sexual symbolism as processes of gendered identity formation: An autoethnography of an accounting firm

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ The aim of this paper is to critically evaluate sexuality and sexual symbolism within the organisational culture of an accounting firm to explore how it is implicated in processes of gendering identities of employees within the firm. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper uses a reflexive autoethnographical approach, including short vignettes, to analyse the inter-relationships between gender, sexuality and power. Findings ‐ By exploring the symbolic role of artefacts, images, language, behaviours and buildings in creating and maintaining gendered relations, male sexual cultures and female sexual countercultures, the paper finds that sexual symbolism in this accounting firm entwines gendered power and domination, practice and resistance, in complex cultural codes and behaviours. It draws out implications for organisations and accounting research. Originality/value ‐ The paper extends current conceptualisation of gendered constructs in accounting to include sexuality; applies organisational and feminist theory to autoethnographical experience in accounting; and contributes a seldom-seen insight into the organisational symbolism and culture of a small accounting firm, rather than the oft-seen focus on large firms.

Keywords: Accounting; Accounting firm; Autoethnography; Culture; Feminism; Gender; Identity; Sexuality; Symbolism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513571311311865

Publication date: March 22, 2013

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