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Surviving in dangerous places: lesbian identity performances in the workplace, social class and psychological health

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2006
<mark>Journal</mark>Feminism and Psychology
Issue number2
Volume16
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)193-211
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

This article examines the ways in which the psychological health of women may be influenced by workplace sexual identity performances and social class positioning. It draws on UK research through in-depth interviews with 24 women who self-defined as mainly lesbian and/or gay. The article demonstrates that, for the women in the study, sexual identity performances at work involved negotiating employment settings that render heterosexuality compulsory and thus lesbian/gay performances a risk. As a result, the women engaged in risk-assessment strategies that were psychologically demanding. The women's narratives also suggest that the psychological effects of managing an 'othered' sexual identity in work was mediated by social class. The working-class women were more likely to be employed in settings where heterosexuality was heavily regulated and their 'practices of survival' were potentially more detrimental to their psychological health.